In a single update, a popular barcode scanner app that had been on Google Play for years turned into malware.
“Barcode Scanner” had 4+ stars in 74,000 reviews. Instead of making a statement as to the trustworthiness or usefulness of the application, it became a giant target; a vulnerability to exploit by taking over the application’s distribution, and then putting a trojan into it.
Every significant review system is being gamed to the point of being unusable, and yet stories about not being able to trust them keep being reported as if this were somehow noteworthy. For every one of these stories that rises to a thread on HN, how many other small time vendors are getting screwed by someone who is willing to pay a room full of people in some 3rd-world country to tarnish their competitors’ products?
“Apps” and “algorithms” seem to be driving literally everything about society now. I don’t think this is a good thing, nor do I see the trend reversing. These giant black boxes now control the levers of modern society, and the companies that own them get to hide behind their “terms of service” to avoid any responsibility for the damage being done.