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Free Speech and App Store Ratings: Are They Correlated?

Free Speech and App Store Ratings: Are They Correlated?

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In America, it is very rare for someone consider their first amendment rights when thinking about how to critique a mobile app. No one has ever consulted a constitutional law book when expressing their opinion on Clash of Clans, and if they have, I very much want to see the end result. That’s because we know that we have the right to express ourselves freely (within reason) without fear of harmful persecution. But what about other countries that have limitations on their freedom of speech?

The good people over at appFigures, a leading app analytics firm, released a study asking the question: “Are ratings from some countries inherently more positive (or critical) than other countries?” After using app ratings to create a sentiment index, filtering and plotting all of the data, and color coding each country’s rating, their findings resulted in a map of global rating sentiment.

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Most striking is the degree of clustering in the data. Europe and the Nordic countries stand out as tough critics when it comes to ratings. Advancing across Europe to the west, though, leads to increasingly favorable ratings. Central Europe is more neutral while countries in eastern Europe are upbeat.”

These findings got them thinking about what factors contribute to the trend of more industrialized, advanced democracies being comfortable giving a critical rating of mobile apps. Deciding to expand upon this thought, they compared their analysis against findings from the World Press Freedom Index to see what the correlation between freedom of speech and mobile app ratings might be.

Generally speaking, countries that are less tolerant of public opinion (higher WPFI) produce app ratings that are more favorable than countries with a robust Fourth Estate. Although there is still a good deal of sentiment variation left unexplained, a relationship between country rating sentiment and freedom of the press is clearly present.”

There could be a number of other contributing factors for this correlation, but it’s quite an interesting and thought-provoking study. You can read the details of entire study here.