TL;DR; My Google Publisher Account was terminated in one hour after 10 years of loyal service
- I have been developing Android applications since Android 1.5 Cupcake in 2009.
- I created my Google Play Publisher account in August 2011 and I started publishing Android applications in September 2011.
- I have always done my best to follow Google’s best practices throughout my career as an Android developer.
- During my adventure as an Android developer, I published 262 applications with the same goal in mind: to offer useful content to users of Android smartphones and tablets.
- My applications have been diverse and varied: Book & Reference, Health & Fitness, Education, Tools, Music & Audio, Personalization, Weather, Games, …
- My applications have had more than 4 million downloads.
- I have always taken into account the warnings of the team in charge of the Google Play Store and I have always made the necessary adjustments.
- The new repetitive content policy began to be applied from mid-November 2019 and I did not have time to comply with this new rule.
- I received a series of emails about suspensions of weather applications from 1:15 a.m. on 27/11/2019.
- I finally received an email at 1:52 a.m. on 27/11/2019 indicating that my account was terminated due to multiple violations apparently related to these weather applications whose content falls within the scope of the new repetitive content policy.
- The time between the warning that my Google Play Publisher account applications needed to be compliant and the termination of my Google Play Publisher account was less than 1 hour.
- I am aware that I am at fault but I have the impression that the decision to terminate my Google Publishing account following this violation of the rules is very severe and radical.
- I hope that my appeal can be studied by a real person in order to allow me to make the necessary adjustments on my account and resume my activity as an Android application developer on the Google Play Store.
My adventure with Android
My adventure with Android began as a user in 2009 when I acquired the HTC G1, marketed under the name Dream. Immediately seduced by Android, I decided to start developing Android applications.
Of course, Android was not then what it has become today, so I felt like I was at the beginning of a unique adventure. This was the case when you see the phenomenal success of Android over the past decade.
Working as a Java developer at that time, I naturally decided to take the plunge and download everything I needed to try to develop Android applications. At the very beginning, I only developed applications for my own needs. Then, listening to my friends’ advice, I decided in August 2011 to pay to get a publisher account on the Android Market (the ancestor of the Google Play Store) in order to go further in the adventure.
That’s how I launched my modest FastMeteo weather application in September 2011. At that time, competition was much less fierce on the Android Market. There were very few weather applications, for example.
To my great surprise, the success was instantaneous and I quickly found myself with several hundred downloads per day and more than a thousand active users of my weather application. After a few months, I decided to test the integration of the AdMob SDK into my application.
FastMeteo’s success pushes me to continue my efforts and I invest more deeply in the development of Android applications of all kinds to meet the needs of the people around me and those of Android users:
- Daily Horoscope
- App for learning French Traffic Laws
- NFC Reader
- CPU Hardware & System Info
- SIM Card Info
- CPU Benchmark
- Word Search Puzzle
- Fifteen Puzzle
- Weather applications by country
- Football Scores per league
- Discount Calculator
As you can see, my number of applications has only been limited by my imagination. While my Google Play Publisher account has just been finished by Google, I take a look at the statistics about me on AppBrain and I realize that I have created 262 Android applications over the past 10 years:
I am also surprised to see that my applications have totalled more than 4 million downloads on the Google Play Store with an average score of 4.45/5.
Among my applications, there were weather applications created specifically for each country as well as applications giving football scores by league. This practice seemed allowed to me in 2012 when I started creating these applications and I had never had any feedback from Google on the subject.
A recent update, dated November 2019, from what I understand, of the policy on repetitive content in the Google Play Store seems to have changed the situation and I have clearly not paid enough attention to the issue.
10 years of efforts reduced to nothing in one hour
I pay the price for my lack of attention to this policy change and the non-compliance of these weather applications and those displaying football scores by league.
Thus, during the night of 27/11/2019, I received emails telling me that several of my weather applications were suspended and removed from the Google Play Store for violating the policy on repetitive content:
The first email started at 1:15 a.m. as shown in this screenshot. And then everything went on to finally lead to 1:52 a.m. to the following email:
I assume that this email is automated and is triggered after a number of application suspensions in a short period of time on a Google Play Publisher account.
I am aware that I am at fault, but I hope for a minimum of clemency
First of all, I would like to say that I am aware that I am at fault. The Google Play Store policy has evolved and I should have complied with it. Nevertheless, I find the decision to end my account in the middle of the night very severe and radical.
Indeed, how could I have reacted and made the necessary adjustments between the first email received at 1:15 a.m. in the morning and the email announcing the termination of my Google Play Publisher account received at 1:52 a.m.?
I simply could not react in such a short time to the first suspensions that act as a warning in this case. In my opinion, I did not have the necessary material time to react to this warning and comply with the Google Play Store’s new policy of violating repetitive content.
In view of the speed of the sanction, I appealed the decision to Google but I am afraid I will find a program and automatic processing of my appeal in the same way as my account was terminated.
I hope to find a real person who will take a minimum of time to review my file and that my 10 years of good and loyal service as an Android developer will play in my favor when my appeal is considered.
I am writing this letter to share my unfortunate experience
From what I’ve read on Medium, or elsewhere on the web, about the closing of a Google Play Publisher account, it’s very difficult to see your request processed by a real person.
It is even more difficult to win against the robots in the Google Play Store.
I am therefore under no illusions, but I am writing this letter to share my unfortunate experience and to describe in words my strong sense of disappointment at the rapid closure of my Google Play Publisher account when I have done my best in the last 10 years to develop Android applications that respect the rules defined by Google.
I feel that I have worked at my level, even modestly, to the incredible growth of Android over the past decade by providing users with useful and appreciated applications as evidenced by the average of my ratings on the Google Play Store.
To be judged and executed so quickly in the space of an hour on the night of 27/11/2019 is a huge disappointment and I hope that other Android developers will not have to suffer the same thing in the future.
As such, I hope that Google will continue its efforts to improve its management of policy violations in order to make it more humane with a real consideration of the developers’ past because they are at the heart of the Google Play Store’s success.
Finally, I hope that this letter will allow me to attract the attention of as many people in the Android community as possible in order to obtain a complete study of my appeal by a real person.
UPDATES — 11/28/2019
I got a first answer from the Google Play Team which seemed to be automated. Its content informed me that the result of my appeal was negative:
Thanks for contacting the Google Play Team.
After reviewing your appeal, we have confirmed our initial decision and will not be able to reinstate your developer account.”
So I relaunched the Google Play Team by explaining my situation and that I found the situation unfair. My plea had little effect since I received an identical answer shortly after my answer:
Thanks again for contacting Google Play Team.
As much as I’d like to help, I’m not able to provide any more information or a better answer to your question. In our previous email, I made sure to include all the information available to me.
If you have a different question about the Play Developer Console, please let me know.”
I finally decide to relaunch the Google Play Team one last time by explaining that their very severe sanction banned me from the Google Play Store for life and that I hope a little leniency from them given my background as an Android developer.
Unlike previous replies, the feedback is not immediate, which gives me hope that the response to my message is not automated. After several hours, I finally get the following answer:
Thanks for contacting the Google Play Team.
We’ve reviewed the appeal for your developer account termination and have conditionally accepted the appeal based upon leniency considerations.
In addition, the following apps will remain suspended due to the policy violations below: …”
What strikes me with this last email is that the first line starts with my first name while the previous answers were more generic. So I have the impression that my case has been studied by a human. The Google Play Team finally decided to show clemency and permanently remove applications that do not comply with their policy.
I was asking nothing more than that from Google:
To give me a second chance and delete the content he thought was inappropriate without going so far as to ban it for life.
This unfortunate episode made me aware of some of my mistakes and I will therefore purge my listing of applications in order to leave only those deemed most useful by users while remaining much more vigilant to policy changes in the Google Play Store.
Finally, I would like to thank all the people who supported me during this unfortunate episode. I don’t know if sharing my article has had an impact, but I think it has. Indeed, it had more than 30,000 views in just one day and it was proposed as suggested content on Google Chrome.
For Android developers who will experience the same misfortune in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can also provide you some help with my support. And above all, do not hesitate to speak publicly about your case.
Thanks to Pablo A. Martínez for his advice in writing this letter which is inspired by the one he wrote on December 30, 2018:
French version of this open letter: