If the Flappy Birds drama is any indication, the Windows Phone Store is vulnerable to becoming the home to apps that have the effect of misleading users. Microsoft of course, has recently done a spring cleaning of its Store and pulled out as many as 1500 fake apps from its kitty and revised its policies with regards to such misleading and malicious apps. The three main changes made to the certification requirements include the fact that the app needs to clearly reflect the functionality of the app, the apps need to be categorized according to their function and purpose and the app icons themselves should not closely resemble or be similar to other apps.
While most developers have agreed to the revised terms, some who did not, have had their apps removed from the Store. Microsoft has also promised to refund the cost of such misleading apps downloaded by users. (See here to claim a refund from the Windows Phone Store.) Microsoft is also preparing to speed up the process of reviewing freshly submitted apps and is encouraging users who discover misleading apps to report them using the links in the Store. If you have happened to come across any such app which purports to represent another app, is misleading or malicious, you can follow these simple steps to report them.
How to Report Malicious Windows Phone App
Before you report an app make sure that they fall within the following areas of concern: the content is offensive, there are concerns for child exploitation, there is spam content, there are technical issues such as crashes, performance issues and it affects battery life, or there are privacy concerns. You will have to email Microsoft at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide them with the following information.
- The link to the app on the Windows Store
- The Publisher name
- The App name
- The country or region from where you are reporting your concerns. You also have to specify in your email which parts of the app you wish to report. For instance, you will have to state whether it was the app title that you found misleading or it was the app icon, app description, or app content that was malicious.
To Report a Malicious App on Windows Phone 8.1
You can also report a malicious app from your Windows Phone 8.1. To do that:
1. Open the app that you want to report. Swipe left to the Reviews screen and swipe left again to go to the Details pane.
2. Scroll down and choose Report concern to Microsoft.
3. Select your area of concern from the options available and click Submit.
While we cannot say for sure what action is taken behind the scenes when you report a malicious app or how quickly the action is taken, you will have to trust Microsoft to do its job prudently in the interest of its customers.