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chinese e-commerce app pinduoduo banned
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Security & privacy

These Chinese-owned apps are dangerous — Get them off your phone

TikTok has been facing significant backlash worldwide for collecting data on its users. It’s already been banned from government and military devices in the U.S., and there’s been a push for its Chinese owners to sell their shares in the company. Here’s what’s happening so far.

Another Chinese app landed in hot water this week but for different reasons. Google went so far as to remove the app from its store. Here’s what you need to know.

China’s Amazon is bad news

Pinduoduo, a Chinese e-commerce app, has been pulled from Google Play Store over security concerns. While Google Play is unavailable in China, a spokesperson told TechCrunch that “off-Play versions of this app that have been found to contain malware have been enforced on via Google Play Protect.”

Google advises that anyone with the Pinduoduo app uninstall it, and we echo that sentiment. Pinduoduo is not the only Chinese e-commerce app to worry about, however.

Temu, too

A doorbell camera for $12? Memory cards for $3? Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is.

You’ll find prices like this on an e-commerce app called Temu. Have you heard of it? It’s the most downloaded shopping app in the U.S., beating out Walmart and Target. It’s been downloaded 24 million times since launching in September.

Temu says it keeps prices low by allowing Chinese vendors to sell directly to consumers. And that makes sense when you consider this: though the company is based in the U.S., Temu is owned by PDD Holdings, which also owns Pinduoduo. There it is!

Dirt-cheap electronics should raise alarm bells, but if you need more proof, check out its abysmal rating and customer reviews at the Better Business Bureau.

As Kim said, you get what you pay for.

Do this now

If Pinduoduo is installed on your phone, you should delete it immediately. Though there hasn’t been news about security concerns for the iOS app, iPhone users should take the same precautions.

Delete apps from your Android phone:

  • Long-press an app, then tap App Info > Uninstall
  • Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications to see a list of your apps and delete them the same way. 
  • Or open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Menu > My apps & games. Tap on the app and hit Uninstall
  • NOTE: Samsung and OnePlus phones have an Uninstall option under the app shortcuts menu. 

Delete apps from your iPhone

  • Touch and hold an app, then tap Remove App > Delete App > Delete
  • Or use the App Library, introduced in iOS 14, to get a curated list of your apps grouped by category. Swipe past the last page of your Home screen to access it. Tap and hold the app, then select Delete App > Delete

RELATED: Why yesterday’s TikTok hearing was a disservice to all Americans

Stay protected

While official app stores are more secure than third-party options, they are not infallible. Bad apps occasionally slip through the vetting process of the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.

One of the best ways to ensure you don’t download malicious apps is to utilize Google Play Protect. It is enabled by default, but only if you have a Play Protect certified device. Here’s how to check your device:

  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • At the top right, tap the profile icon.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Under About, check if your device is Play Protect certified.

Play Protect runs a safety check on apps from the Google Play Store. It inspects them for potentially harmful apps from other sources, which could contain malware.

When Google finds a harmful app on your phone, it warns you and gives you the option to remove it or deactivate functionality. Of course, you can turn the setting off, but that isn’t a wise move.

If Google Play Protect somehow got turned off, here’s how to turn it back on:

  • Open the Google Play Store app.
  • At the top right, tap the profile icon.
  • Tap Play Protect > Settings.
  • Turn Scan apps with Play Protect on.

You should also have antivirus software updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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