Deceptive Behavior

Changes are coming to this article

This article will be updated with recently announced changes.

We’re updating our Manipulated Media policy to include audio as an additional example of a type of media covered under the policy. (effective August 31, 2024)

To preview the updated “Deceptive Behavior” article, visit this page.

We don't allow apps that attempt to deceive users or enable dishonest behavior including but not limited to apps which are determined to be functionally impossible. Apps must provide an accurate disclosure, description and images/video of their functionality in all parts of the metadata. Apps must not attempt to mimic functionality or warnings from the operating system or other apps. Any changes to device settings must be made with the user's knowledge and consent and be reversible by the user.



Misleading Claims

We don’t allow apps that contain false or misleading information or claims, including in the description, title, icon, and screenshots.
Examples of common violations
  • Apps that misrepresent or do not accurately and clearly describe their functionality:
    • An app that claims to be a racing game in its description and screenshots, but is actually a puzzle block game using a picture of a car.
    • An app that claims to be an antivirus app, but only contains a text guide explaining how to remove viruses.
  • Apps that claim functionalities that are not possible to implement, such as insect repellent apps, even if it is represented as a prank, fake, joke, etc.
  • Apps that are improperly categorized, including but not limited to the app rating or app category.
  • Demonstrably deceptive or false content that may interfere with voting processes, or about the outcome of elections.
  • Apps that falsely claim affiliation with a government entity or to provide or facilitate government services for which they are not properly authorized.
  • Apps that falsely claim to be the official app of an established entity. Titles like “Justin Bieber Official” are not allowed without the necessary permissions or rights.

(1) This app features medical or health-related claims (Cure Cancer) that is misleading.
(2) This apps claim functionalities that are not possible to implement (using your phone) as a breathalyzer.


Deceptive Device Settings Changes

We don’t allow apps that make changes to the user’s device settings or features outside of the app without the user’s knowledge and consent. Device settings and features include system and browser settings, bookmarks, shortcuts, icons, widgets, and the presentation of apps on the homescreen.

Additionally, we do not allow:

  • Apps that modify device settings or features with the user’s consent but do so in a way that is not easily reversible.
  • Apps or ads that modify device settings or features as a service to third parties or for advertising purposes.
  • Apps that mislead users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features.
  • Apps that encourage or incentivize users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features unless it is part of a verifiable security service.


Enabling Dishonest Behavior

We don't allow apps that help users to mislead others or are functionally deceptive in any way, including, but not limited to: apps that generate or facilitate the generation of ID cards, social security numbers, passports, diplomas, credit cards, bank accounts, and driver's licenses. Apps must provide accurate disclosures, titles, descriptions, and images/video regarding the app's functionality and/or content and should perform as reasonably and accurately expected by the user.

Additional app resources (for example, game assets) may only be downloaded if they are necessary for the users' use of the app. Downloaded resources must be compliant with all Google Play policies, and before beginning the download, the app should prompt users and clearly disclose the download size.

Any claim that an app is a "prank", "for entertainment purposes" (or other synonym) does not exempt an app from application of our policies.

Examples of common violations
  • Apps that mimic other apps or websites to trick users into disclosing personal or authentication information.
  • Apps that depict or display unverified or real world phone numbers, contacts, addresses, or personally identifiable information of non-consenting individuals or entities.
  • Apps with different core functionality based on a user’s geography, device parameters, or other user-dependent data where those differences are not prominently advertised to the user in the store listing.
  • Apps that change significantly between versions without alerting the user (for example, ‘what’s new’ section) and updating the store listing.
  • Apps that attempt to modify or obfuscate behavior during review.
  • Apps with content delivery network (CDN) facilitated downloads that fail to prompt the user and disclose the download size prior to downloading.


Manipulated Media

We don't allow apps that promote or help create false or misleading information or claims conveyed through imagery, videos and/or text. We disallow apps determined to promote or perpetuate demonstrably misleading or deceptive imagery, videos and/or text, which may cause harm pertaining to a sensitive event, politics, social issues, or other matters of public concern.

Apps that manipulate or alter media, beyond conventional and editorially acceptable adjustments for clarity or quality, must prominently disclose or watermark altered media when it may not be clear to the average person that the media has been altered. Exceptions may be provided for public interest or obvious satire or parody.

Examples of common violations
  • Apps adding a public figure to a demonstration during a politically sensitive event.
  • Apps using public figures or media from a sensitive event to advertise media altering capability within an app's store listing.
  • Apps that alter media clips to mimic a news broadcast.

    (1) This app provides functionality to alter media clips to mimic a news broadcast, and add famous or public figures to the clip without a watermark.


Behavior Transparency

Your app’s functionality should be reasonably clear to users; don't include any hidden, dormant, or undocumented features within your app. Techniques to evade app reviews are not allowed. Apps may be required to provide additional details to ensure user safety, system integrity, and policy compliance.

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