Malicious and Misleading Mobile Apps and What Measures Can Be Taken to Stop Them

Social media is used by teenagers across the board and there are no two thoughts on that. Whether you are talking about the use of Twitter or Instagram, everyone likes to be on top of every news but there is a flip side to all of this as there are many cases of teenagers being targeted for several ads that are not meant for them, especially if they are under the age of 18 years.

Several countries around the world are using different technologies so that they can ensure that day safeguard the trust of their young people. Recently, a new law that will be effective from May 2022 has been put forward by the UK government. The law is related to the prohibition of ads to anyone aged 18 or younger so that they cannot be forced into getting cosmetic surgery.

The Background

Cosmetic surgery in many countries around the world is illegal if the patient is younger than 18 years. And many young people see such ads on social media or mobile apps. Some of them have the money so they pay for it and hide it from their parents or guardians which is strictly illegal. But still, this practice is in place right now. Many young people face the consequences of these operations in the form of severe side effects and sometimes life-threatening injuries.

Facebook and Instagram are hugely popular apps. Smartphones and handheld devices now outnumber desktop PCS and laptops, the mobile app is primarily used now. Virtually every other app developer dream of getting the kind of popularity Facebook and Instagram have. To achieve this, they try every trick to get more eyeballs. And that is where some companies indulge in illegal practices so that they can leave their target audience. 

The Dilemma for App Developers 

The scenario that I have just mentioned is very serious and the consequences for it can be gruesome for the patient. Several mobile apps are available on Google Play and the app store which entices users to go for such treatment. Surely there is not much we can do until the big tech companies think about it. And without any doubt, Google Play and Play Store need to tighten their screws. But there is a counter-argument on this aspect too. Read on as I discuss this aspect and others in detail. 

The Role of Google and Apple 

There is another school of thought that will argue App Store is already very strict and not many need to be done in this context. Even if this is the case then this shouldn’t be happening as such apps are available too easily on the app store. And when it comes to Google Play, that policy is a bit relaxed and that’s why search apps are in abundance on this platform. 

The role of any app development company in scenarios like these is critical. While they need to develop apps according to the requirements of their customers, they must look into the bigger context. And what if all their mobile apps get banned and even are fined for their role in spreading such illegal practices? Abiding by the rules and working within the boundaries can fetch good results for every stakeholder.

The Role of Regulators 

The bitter truth is they are not doing their job perfectly. As not just apps related to this type of medical practice but also others which lure teenagers to play on online casinos or other illegal activities are easily available. So this means that the apps will be available, and people will try to doge the govt and regulators anyhow? Sadly this is what is the case right now, but the role of concerned authorities and regulators and their active participation can make it better. 

There must be strict regulations from the concerned authorities. In this case, the US government’s role is immense as both Google and Apple are American companies and are based in the famous Silicon Valley in California. Not only do local rules and regulations apply to them, but they are also bound by international laws and what is common practice. 

What Needs to be Done?

Businesses can be penalized, and heavy fines have been given in the past related to antitrust laws and ill-practices like acting as a monopoly. But there must be strict rules and fines on Google Play and App Store if such apps continue to be available on their platforms. Surely this is a continuous process as they cannot just delete every other app from their store and get things done. More such apps are uploaded on their platforms all the time. But here’s another catch. 

The other scenario is that all the apps that have been downloaded by millions of people will be used by them unless and until they are warned about it. Furthermore, users must be educated about refraining from using any mobile app they like. They must go through the reviews and search for that app for its authenticity and trust amongst other things. 

The role of watchdogs is also important as they must play their part well. And then some whistleblowers also offer expert support to the users and also for the companies as they point out the errors. The role of everyone in finding such as which target teenagers and young adults forcing them into any action needs to be checked all the time. And parents should also keep an eye on the activities of their children as such checks will also make them cautious and they will not fall into the traps of such apps easily. 

Final Words

The situation that I have mentioned can balloon into something very big and horrific for teenagers. Businesses should also hire app developer who is aware of this scenario and how they can be beneficial for their customers. We must also do our bit to save children and young people around us. 

What is your stance on this topic? And have you used any such apps? Please offer your honest feedback for this blog and your views. For any questions too, please use the comments section below. 


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