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My app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.houseblend...) got kicked out of the app store a while back with the reason being:

"Violation of the intellectual property and impersonation or deceptive behavior"

Pretty vague so I didn't really know what the issue was. I thought my description fo the app was accurate and it was all my own work. I followed the appeal process listed in the email and waited. After a couple of weeks with no response, I emailed again. After another week, I followed up again. Finally after a total of three weeks off the market, it was re-instated. I still don't know what the problem was, but being off the market hurt. I went from nearly 4000 downloads a day when it was suspended to just a few hundred now.

I have similar anecdote, but with facebook: We had an web application get a huge bump in traffic as we approached the date of a massive live event that was being managed by the app. Suddenly, facebook shut off our access. Luckily, we had written the app in such a way that we could quickly disable the facebook features, and still have a functional app. If it had been critical to have facebook, the event would have been ruined, and our clients would have fired us. We contacted facebook, and our conversation went something like this:

FB auto message: our very amazing and awesome malware detector, which uses all this cool machine learning and is amazing, has detected that your site is malware and we are disabling it.

Us: Our site is not malware, it's just suddenly very popular. Please turn it back on.

1 week later

FB rep: You site appears to be on, please refer to the documentation for how to connect to our services, do not violate the terms of use agreement.

Us: Ok, it does appear to be back on now. Why was it shut off?

FB rep: You violated the terms of use agreement.

Us: How did we do that? Could you explain what term we violated, so we can modify our code appropriately?

FB rep: Do not violate the terms of use agreement.

Us: Ok, but which term? Are you sure your automated system didn't just shut the site down because it went viral?

FB rep: no response, ever again

We never changed the code, site continued to work fine. As a result, I live in fear that something like this could happen again, in a situation where facebook was a critical component. Did the ability to contact a human help in this situation? Unclear. They definitely did a good job of making us feel worthless and unimportant.

With more companies going more and more to a purely online presence, I've found customer service to be rapidly degrading. They provide no phone numbers to contact them and they take an age to reply by email with a standard copy and paste response to everything.

It's annoying as hell, and a lot of people's response if "well it's free, so don't expect customer support". Except it is the customers that make Facebook worth $100bn, for example.

More companies need to learn from Amazon, their customer support is first rate. I can see a lot of people turning their back on Facebook/Google due support issues.

The only guarantee you have against a situation like that is to not use the platform. I would never rely on FB, Twitter, or even a single cloud provider. It's necessary that one be able to pack up and go if there is a sudden policy change or price hike.

The grammar on that is also confusing. Is it IP && (impersonation || deceptive behavior) or is it (IP && impersonation) || deceptive behavior?

If it's the former (which is how I interpret it), then they should tell you what IP you've violated or who your accuser is. I understand they want to be vague to avoid giving information that may allow spammers to game the system, but I think they're going to be more persistent and sophisticated anyways. This leads to an ineffective deterrent technique and a poor experience for customers. You'd figure Google would have people smart enough to realize this.

Agreed. In my response, I tried to guess what the complaint could be and I addressed each possibility in turn. This made for a quite long response as I was addressing items that were likely not even a problem. In the end, the re-instatement notice was sent via email:

"Upon further review, we've accepted your appeal and have reinstated your application."

So, I still don't know what the problem was.

It's exactly stories like these that have me seriously considering going back to vanilla web dev again after a year as an indie in the App Store. I'm just not comfortable putting all my eggs in a basket that can be yanked away at any time for any reason in an environment where I'm guilty until proven innocent.

The relative safety and convenience of the app store is not justification enough to give up these fundamental freedoms to unaccountable corporate bureaucracies.

They took down an App I made for the Olympics also, 20,000 downloads in 2 days, AppBrain hot list, then poof its gone with the same generic "..intellectual property and impersonation.." warning, no specifics. They did reply to my emails but you might as well be talking to a robot, they wont tell you anything. My best guess is my use of the word Olympics in my app, but that's what people are searching for so removing that no one can find your app.

I still don't know what the problem was

I would guess that it's that your logo is an obvious derivative of Instagram's logo, as is your app name. There is a very real possibility that users in a rush could install your app when they intended to install Instagram proper.

If Google really starts cracking down, anyone with a trademark infringing logo is going to have a rough time -- you can't take someone else's logo and just modify it without their express consent. Maybe Instagram grants it, but this does seem to be actionable.

The logo/icon and the use of Instagram in the title were some of the issues I addressed in my response and I offered to make changes. It would be hard to release an Instagram plugin without using the Instagram name (think of all the Photoshop plugins). But in the end, I made no changes and they re-instated.

So anything that starts with Insta is now owned by Instagram?

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