WhatsApp may have used fake reviews to bolster its app ratings. A look at the average ratings for WhatsApp shows that from January 22 to March 21 its average rating is at 3.4. By March 24, the average rating for WhatsApp increased to 4.4, a whole point increase. However, many of the 5-star reviews that WhatsApp got recently seemingly talk about games. Some of the reviews mention great gameplay or awesome graphics, something WhatsApp does not have as a messenger app. These game-related reviews already represent 2.7% of the 5-star ratings WhatsApp has. A comparison with the reviews for Telegram shows that game reviews comprise a much smaller number of all reviews. More so, those 22 game reviews from January 22 to March 21 are with games that are part of Telegram itself. It is also possible that there are fake reviews that are not game-related, hence inflating the number of fake reviews. WhatsApp has since denied involvement in the suspicious app reviews.
The decrease in the WhatsApp average ratings over the period of January 22 to March 21 may be caused by two factors. The first one is the release of Snapchat-like application features. These features include the use of video, photos, and GIFs as status and use of a "seen by" counter. Another is the revelation that security bugs may have compromised the privacy of WhatsApp users. This bug can result in interception of data by Facebook or government intelligence agencies.
Use of fake reviews is not new. Google Play Store and Apple App Store have both been subject to fake app reviews for some time now. In some situations, the price of a fake review is pegged at around $1 each, which is not exactly cheap. Thus, only individuals or entities with the pockets to spend thousands of dollars may have possibly done this. In the Indian Play Store, the applications providing compensation for downloads and installation are subject to fake or spam reviews. Sometimes, fake accounts using photos of people, possibly without consent, fills the app review pages with spam. It causes inconvenience to an actual user looking for information, as they have to scroll far down to get to the real reviews. Google has since stepped up with new algorithms for fake reviews.