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Apple App Store error reportedly saw 20M ratings erased in a week

A bug caused havoc in Apple’s App Store recently when around 10 million user ratings temporarily vanished in the U.S. and more than 20 million globally.

Spotted by New York-based app analytics firm Appfigures and reported by TechCrunch, the error affected apps from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Nike, and Disney, though smaller developers were also hit. According to Apple, the issue was caused by a bug that’s since been fixed and the reviews should be back online.

“App Store ratings and reviews are an important way for customers to share their experiences about apps they’ve downloaded,” Apple said in a statement provided to Digital Trends. “During routine maintenance to the App Store, ratings and reviews were temporarily affected by a bug that has since been resolved. While no reviews or ratings were ever deleted, the data displayed to users was impacted for a period of time. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused. All ratings and reviews have been restored.”

According to Appfigures, more than 300 apps from some 200 developers were caught up in the sweep, which erased around 22 million user reviews during two days of activity last week.

“On average, the apps saw a 50% decrease in ratings in affected countries,” the firm wrote in a post about the incident.

It noted that some apps suffered more than others. Take Hulu. The video-streaming site lost 95% of its ratings in the U.S., while Dropbox lost about 85% of its U.S. ratings.

Why ratings matter

Ratings can affect the amount of exposure apps receive in Apple’s App Store, which in turn can lead to greater or fewer downloads. Of course, the deletion of ratings can work both ways, for example, if most of the deleted ratings for an app were negative or had one or two stars, the app’s profile could be boosted, but, more damagingly, if the deleted reviews were mostly positive, the app could receive less exposure and therefore fewer downloads.

While the affected apps from larger companies — Starbucks, Amazon Prime Video, and Walgreens among them — can no doubt take the hit, smaller developers adversely affected by the bug will understandably be none too pleased about the incident.

Developers suggested to Appfigures that the erroneous deletion may have occurred as Apple attempted to purge the App Store of fake ratings, though they were keen to make clear that they themselves have never solicited fake ratings or reviews.

Wondering how reliable App Store ratings are anyway? Digital Trends spoke to some experts to find out.

Update 10/31: Added a statement from Apple.

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Trevor Mogg
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