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I started using an Android app that is offering in-app incentives (unlocks) in return for 5 star ratings on the Google Play app store. Is this against Google Play's terms of service?

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    It's worth mentioning that apps can't see what rating you gave them. So if an app says that it'll give you a reward for a 5-star review, just leave it a 1-star review and you'll still get the reward. – Pikamander2 Dec 23 '19 at 6:39
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    Whether it is allowed or not, do you consider it to be morally acceptable? Consider your motivations and the effect on people who are misled (lied to) to get them to install your app. If it is worthy of 5 stars, it will receive them. – Mawg says reinstate Monica Dec 23 '19 at 7:00
  • Oh, I really love that: A perfect 5 star worth app asks me to give a 5 star review. That's a very good reason to be give a 1 star review. – Volker Siegel Dec 24 '19 at 3:07
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    @Pikamander2 You can even just let it direct you to the Google Play page and don't leave any review at all, the app can't notice that. – Fabian Röling Dec 31 '19 at 8:17
  • I can confirm that you don't need to leave a rating having done this and still received the bonus. However, the result of the app making such a request is that I do not trust the existing ratings. It breaks the trust between the user and the ratings system so I can clearly see why Google bans it. – authentictech Dec 31 '19 at 10:34
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Highlighting one part of policy violation, related to what you say

Here are some examples of common violations:

Asking users to rate your app while offering an incentive

Edit:

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    Is there even a direct mechanism to be able to tell outside of cross-referncing user name's? – zero298 Dec 22 '19 at 4:12
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    @zero298 nope, there isn’t – Ed Marty Dec 22 '19 at 4:59
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    As Pikamander2 commented, just give them a rating of 1. Add a comment if you're not afraid to be identified. If you don't, maybe they'll still figure out the reason and stop doing this. – Jan Doggen Dec 23 '19 at 10:01
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    I decided to leave 1-star review with a comment about their bad practice hoping that it would prompt them to update the app. I do like the app (not enough for 5 stars) so I don't want it removed from the app store but false reviews mislead people and is unfair on other developers. If they don't change the app soon I will report it. – authentictech Dec 23 '19 at 13:11
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It is against Google Policy, and also against The United States Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) advertising rules.

How to report such an app- You may have some luck by creating a post in https://support.google.com/googleplay/community. Don't be afraid to mention the app's name in there. The matter will be looked into by a moderator there who will then escalate the issue to Google staff.

I did the same thing in the Google Maps forum after an oil change place offered me a $10 discount for a 5 star review. He was taking the customer's cell phones and writing those reviews himself. He had over 500 reviews and after about a week they all disappeared.

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    He was taking the customer's cell phones and writing those reviews himself. shocking that anyone would hand over their unlocked cell phone to a complete stranger for just about any reason, much less to get a measly $10 discount. – dwizum Dec 23 '19 at 19:42
  • shocked that there are ppl who would do about anything for a $10 discount? welcome to the real world :/ – törzsmókus Dec 31 '19 at 17:10

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