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Google is fighting a surge of ads that automatically download apps

Google said today it disabled over 23,000 "self-clicking" mobile ads in 2016, which cause automatic downloads of unwanted apps.

Published onJanuary 25, 2017


As the number of people accessing the internet on phones and tablets grows every day, as does the number of advertisements that try to take advantage of users. To combat this problem, Google is constantly removing bad ads and putting new filters in place to try to rid the internet of such advertisements.

This is how Google finds Android malware

In Google’s annual report on its effort to fight bad ads on its AdSense platform, the company stated it is seeing a lot more of what it calls “self-clicking” mobile ads. What are self-clicking ads? If you’ve ever been scrolling through a web page on your phone, and you’re suddenly whisked off to the Play Store to download an app you’ve never heard of, a self-clicking ad is likely to blame. In 2015, it only found and deleted a few thousand of these ads on the service, but in 2016, Google found and disabled over 23,000 of these self-clicking ads. This is a huge surge compared to what the company found in 2015, and it proves that scammers are becoming more hip to pushing their schemes to mobile web devices.

Google’s blog post didn’t offer any concrete reasons for the rise of these kinds of malicious ads, nor did it offer any hints on how this big increase might be curtailed in the future. Obviously, if you encounter this kind of activity when you go to a mobile website, you can go to Google’s AdSense page to report a violation of its policies. Hopefully Google will try to be proactive and go after these kinds of mobile ads in the future before they do too much damage.

Google took down a total of 1.7 billion bad ads in 2016

Google’s 2016 “bad ads” report as a whole is well worth reading if you are interested in both the statistics of the online ads that violated the company’s policies, and Google’s ongoing efforts to get rid of them. The company said that last year it removed 1.7 billion such ads, which is over double the amount they did in 2015.

Google has expanded its AdSense policies to get rid of ads with misleading offers. That includes ads for payday loans, which it started enforcing in July 2016. Since then, Google said it got rid of over 5 million payday loan ads on its network.

Another example of bad ads, which can hit both PC and mobile web users, is the “trick to click” ad, which shows up looking like a system warning but in fact is a way for scammers to get people to download malware. Google said it got rid of 112 million of those kinds of ads in 2016, over six times the amount it found in 2015.