Americans Warned: What Temu Is Really Doing

( – On July 2nd, Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin warned that the popular shopping app Temu is more than an online marketplace. Griffin described Temu as a “data theft business.”

Griffin emphasized that companies like Amazon or Walmart collect consumer data as part of normal business. However, Temu uses malware and spyware to invade devices and collect data. Griffin explained that Temu’s app can access a user’s phone, including the camera, location, contacts, text messages, documents, and other apps. This invasive access is coded to avoid detection.

Temu is operated by Pinduoduo Inc., based in Shanghai, China. Griffin pointed out that former Chinese communist officials are involved in the company. Arkansas has filed a lawsuit against Pinduoduo Inc., seeking a jury trial and a permanent block on Temu’s data-collection activities. The lawsuit also demands a $10,000 fine for each violation of Arkansas’s Deceptive Practices Act.

The lawsuit claims Temu might sell stolen data from Western customers to sustain its business model, which they say is otherwise doomed. According to reports in the lawsuit, Temu is losing $30 per order due to high ad spending and shipping costs. Temu is also accused of user manipulation and questionable techniques to drive app installations. The Texas Public Policy Foundation issued a warning similar to Arkansas.

Temu denies the claims and intends to defend itself vigorously. A spokesperson stated this suit is not based on independent facts, even though Griffin employed a research firm called Grizzly Research for all of their data findings. Temu was the most downloaded shopping app globally in 2023, with over 330 million downloads.

Despite these concerns, Temu’s advertising and low prices have made it popular. The company spent nearly $3 billion on Super Bowl ads in February, paying about $7 million for each 30-second spot. This high visibility has drawn both customers and scrutiny.

The situation with Temu underscores the importance of understanding what apps are doing with personal data. While the promise of cheap goods is appealing, the potential cost in terms of privacy and data security can be significant.

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