A one-star rating won’t get Facebook unfriended by Google

AAP FactCheck June 11, 2021

The Statement

A social media post urges people to give Facebook’s app a one-star review on Google’s Play Store, going on to claim that Google will automatically delete the app when its rating drops to one.

The May 28 Facebook post, shared by an Australian user, features screenshots from an earlier Instagram post. They include an image of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg above a banner that reads: “Facebook rating drops from 4.0 to 2.6 as users report ‘1 star’ on Playstore.”

Beneath the image, further text reads: “When the rating reaches 1, Google will automatically delete it from the store, which means that Mark will lose billions of dollars. Now the number of people who rated is 220 thousand, we need about 100 thousand one-star ratings in order to get it to the stage of removing it from the Google / App Store.”

The text goes on to claim, “If you evaluate Facebook with one star, its market value will be lowered on the stock exchange, and it will lose billions in losses.”

Other versions of the post and claim have been shared on Facebook and Instagram, for example here and here.

The Facebook post
 Social media posts claim a one-star rating will get Facebook’s app removed from Google Play. 

The Analysis

The removal of an app from the Google Play app store is not determined by its star rating but rather by whether it has violated the company’s developer program policies, a Google spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck. As such, a one-star rating would not lead to any app being automatically removed from the platform.

Facebook, the sixth most valuable public company in the world as of March 31, has faced a coordinated campaign from pro-Palestinian social media users who have bombarded the social media giant with one-star reviews in the Apple and Google Play app stores since May as a protest against what they claim was the company censoring Palestinian voices during the 2021 conflict with Israel in Gaza.

A similar campaign was later used by anti-vaccination activists in protest over Facebook’s policy of downgrading and removing some COVID-19 and vaccine-related content. The tech company says it will remove content for a range of reasons, including when public health authorities conclude the material is “false and likely to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm”.

Since late May, Facebook’s rating on Google Play has dropped to 2.3 stars from above four stars. The post claims that 220,000 people have already posted a review and that 100,000 more one-star reviews will lead to removal. The Google Play review breakdown chart, however, shows that more than 117 million reviews had been submitted for the Facebook app, and the bar chart indicates that one star reviews account for more than half of the total.

A Google spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck in an email that an app’s rating on Google Play does not influence the company’s decision on continuing to offer an app for download.

Apps on Google Play must adhere to the company’s developer program policy, with breaches potentially leading to one of four determinations: rejection, removal, suspension or termination. The policy covers issues such as malware, spam and intellectual property breaches.

According to an explainer video from Android Developers, which provides information about building apps for the operating system used by Google devices, an app may be removed from the Google Play Store if it violates policies by, for example, inciting hate speech.

Removed apps can be restored to the Play Store once the app developer has dealt with the violation and the app complies with its policies, according to Google.

While a one-star rating on app stores won’t see the social media giant kicked off the Google app store, Alexander Kurov, a professor of finance at West Virginia University who has previously written about the effect social media has on stock prices, told AAP FactCheck in an email that low ratings on the Google app store could potentially have a knock-on effect for Facebook’s market value.

“The low ratings on the Google app store will likely have little effect on Facebook’s existing users. But to the extent the low ratings divert new potential users to competing social media platforms, they will likely have a negative effect on Facebook stock price,” he said.

Nevertheless, the campaigns do not appear to have had any short-term effect on Facebook’s market value. Between May 17 and June 10, the company’s share price rose more than five per cent.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose company is one of the world’s most valuable. 

The Verdict

A one-star rating will not automatically lead to Facebook’s app being removed from Google’s Play Store. Google said any decision to remove an app was based on breaches of its developer policy; star ratings were not a factor in these determinations.

False ÔÇô Content that has no basis in fact.

* Editor’s note: This article was produced as part of AAP FactCheck’s Third-Party Fact-Checking partnership with Facebook, for which AAP FactCheck receives payment. AAP FactCheck retains full editorial independence in this partnership and continues to apply the rigorous standards required for accredited members of the International Fact-Checking Network.

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