This disturbing image of a Chinese worker with close to 100 iPhones reveals how App Store rankings can be manipulated

A disturbing image allegedly showing a worker manipulating App Store rankings has gone viral, giving us a rare glimpse into the world of fake app ratings and downloads.

The photo, which was originally uploaded to social media site Weibo with the caption “Hardworking App Store ranking manipulation employee,” depicts a Chinese woman sitting in front of a panel of close to a hundred iPhones.

The woman is wearing a heavy coat and hiding a hand inside of a blanket while she works on the dozens of iPhones in front of her, suggesting cold working conditions.

If the woman in the photo is, as the caption suggests, manipulating the rankings of app on Apple’s App Store, she is likely using uninstalling and re-installing apps on each of the devices to bolster their download rank. While only Apple knows exactly what factors into an app’s ranking on the App Store, the higher the number of overall downloads, the higher the app’s ranking.

The photo offers a rare glimpse into the clandestine world of App Store manipulation, an issue which Apple has struggled to eradicate in the past. App developers looking to give their app a boost in ratings or ranking can turn to the internet to find services claiming to offer a guaranteed five-star ratings or even a week in the App Store’s Top 10 for around $US65,000 per week, according to Cult of Mac.

App store manipulation pricesCult of MacImage reportedly showing the prices for a Top 10 spot in Apple’s App Store.

App developers looking to legally boost their rankings in the App Store have expressed frustration with rigged rankings in the past, and if the above images are indeed real, it looks like Apple will need to continue its efforts to detect and prevent these illegal services from being possible.

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