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Fake News, Fabricated Reviews and the Problem with MAUs

Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you shouldn’t believe everything you read? In the following intelligence piece, we consider the 21st-century crisis of fabricated content and its implications for users of alternative data. Leave your MAUs at the door and join us in the strange world of app download fraud, review fabrication, and bot-generated content.


App downloads, app usage metrics, and revenue estimates can all be important indicators of market penetration and overall firm performance in today’s digital economy.

This kind of data can be sourced from a wide universe of vendors with Data Vendor X enjoying the lion’s share of institutional investor subscriptions. But can these metrics always be trusted?

In July 2019, a group of researchers published the results of a sleuth investigation into the world of app download fraud. Specifically, they released a honeypot app into a major (but unidentified) app marketplace, with the intention of purchasing fake downloads.

Three types of fraud were ultimately identified:


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