No, Your Phone Doesn’t Have a Virus; Those App Store Redirects Come From Difficult-to-Stop Ads
We're sorry. We're so sorry.
We here at The Mary Sue can sympathize with annoying ad behavior from autoplaying, unmuted video to redirecting users to other sites entirely. Mobile browser users with Android and iOS devices have been getting app store redirects for a long time, and though the problem is difficult to stop, it isn’t cause for concern—just annoyance.
The problem has been widespread across the Internet and even apps, because it’s often hard to pin down which ad network or specific ad is causing the unwanted behavior—especially when those ads take you to a different page and load a more innocent one when you return. TechCrunch reported last year that the sites affected included, “Imgur, the AP, NBC, Hearst properties, various newspaper sites and blogs, eBay, Perez Hilton, SomethingAwful, WeatherUnderground, TwitPic, Cheezburger.com, Slickdeals, Twitchy, NHL, and many others.” So why is this still happening?
I’ve personally noticed it recently here on The Mary Sue (as have our readers) and SmashBoards as well, and while we’ve done everything we can to work with our ad networks and find what’s causing the problem, it’s tough to be sure that it’s gone. Luckily, all the redirects really do is hamper the user experience. They whisk you away to try to sell you on Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and other apps, but they don’t do much else.
But trying to get rid of them is like a big game of tag, which is the reason the problem still persists. Affected sites have no choice but to give their ad networks reports of misbehaving ads with varying degrees of detail, and then the ad networks have to figure out which ads are responsible. That gets extra tough when ad networks actually buy ads from each other and are middlemen between the affected parties and the actual advertisers responsible.
And then there are the actual game makers, who don’t necessarily condone the behavior either but can’t figure out who’s causing trouble on their behalf. A spokesperson for King, the company behind Candy Crush, told Tech Crunch way back in early 2014,
King’s contracts with suppliers explicitly state that this practice is not allowed when working with the company, and it will terminate contracts and no longer work with any suppliers found in breach of contract by creating these redirects. Where King can get exact links and examples of where these redirects are happening, it can try to track the supplier that is using these redirects. Any details given to help track down guilty parties are appreciated.
So if you’ve been concerned about the sanctity of your phone, you can rest easy knowing that it’s all just a big, confusing, intrusive-but-not-directly-harmful mess.
(image via PhotoAtelier)