Quarantined Students Spam Homework App with 1-Star Reviews to Get It Removed from App Store

Chinese schoolchildren in Wuhan and other areas where school has been suspended because of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak have apparently been trying to have a homework app taken down from the App Store so they could enjoy their vacation.

The threat of Covid-19 is no joke, but for Chinese students the shutdown of schools in affected areas has been met with excitement as it basically meant an extra holiday period. Sure, they couldn’t hang out or even leave the house for weeks, but at least they didn’t have to attend classes and, most importantly, they din’t have any homework. At least that’s what they thought, because soon after schools closed, teachers started using an Alibaba-owned app to both hold classes online and issue homework to their students. But somehow the schoolchildren managed to coordinate a massive campaign to hopefully have the app taken down from the App Store so they could enjoy their time off.

Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

DingTalk is an advanced app that allows teachers and employers to issue work and homework, and track progress of students and workers by requiring users to submit a “check-in” photo to a set group at the start of each day. The app also allows teachers to conduct lessons via live stream and interact with students via direct video or chat. DingTalk actually works pretty well, and until not so long ago it had a rating of 4.9/5 stars on the App Store, but then a wave of negative reviews bought the rating down to an abysmal 1.4 stars.

“Somehow the little brats worked out that if enough users gave the app a one-star review it would get booted off the App Store,” journalist Wang Xiuying wrote for The London Review of Books. “Tens of thousands of reviews flooded in, and DingTalk’s rating plummeted overnight from 4.9 to 1.4. The app has had to beg for mercy on social media: ‘I’m only five years old myself, please don’t kill me.’”

Photo: DingTalk

While some of the critical reviews raise legitimate concerns about its lax privacy settings and the collection of personal data, many of the most recent ones were simply critical of the app and the purpose it currently serves.

“Imagine having to do homework while you’re possibly going to die from a disease,” one reviewer wrote.

“Feel the frustration of the ruined vacation” or “Bring our holidays back” other negative reviews read.

Despite receiving tens of thousands of negative reviews in recent weeks, DingTalk is still available for download and installation via the App Store.

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