What you need to know
- Google has banned the search terms "coronavirus" and "COVID-19" from the Play Store.
- Searching either term will result in zero results.
- The blanket ban should help prevent nefarious developers from using the coronavirus outbreak to spread misinformation or malware.
As the coronavirus takes a foothold in the U.S., fears surrounding the virus and it spreading have been picked up momentum. We've already seen several conferences canceled as a precaution, including MWC 2020, GDC, Facebook's F8 conference, and even Google I/O 2020.
Now, along with trying to protect users against the spread of the virus, Google is also attempting to prevent the spread of misinformation via the Play Store. As of now, all searches for "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" have been disabled. Searching for either term on the Play Store will reveal zero results, which should, in theory, prevent nefarious developers from preying on your fears.
With the coronavirus being such a hot topic lately, it's not a surprise that the internet is rife with misinformation. Even worse, some are looking to take advantage of the outbreak by spreading malware. Instead of taking on the monumental task of reviewing each of these apps, Google has opted for a blanket ban on any app using the two terms in an effort to capitalize on the health scare.
While we can all appreciate Google taking pre-emptive actions to protect users, an all-out ban might be a step too far. Surely, there is a space for some useful apps surrounding the coronavirus, such as a tracker for the virus. Perhaps, selectively approving apps would be more helpful. After all, Google isn't censoring coronavirus or COVID-19 from its search engine. The information and misinformation are still readily available through your browser. It could be useful to have a handful of approved apps to help during this health emergency.