In the last year, with an extreme emphasis on advertising, the application of the Temu online marketplace, which is not particularly different from the previously popular marketplaces Aliexpress, Wish, Shein, Alibaba and others, has been spreading around the world. Nevertheless, Temu with the well-known orange logo differs from these already traditional applications in some ways, and it is not visible at first glance.
Summary of the article
- Where it was taken, Temu was taken there – The market was founded in the summer of 2022, its seat is in the Cayman Islands.
- The world is taking it by storm – Intensive marketing is characteristic of Temu, the operator places great emphasis on cooperation with influencers.
- We rate Temu – another source of “everything” – The offer is wide and the application is clear, but the same risks apply with the delivery of goods as with other online marketplaces from China.
- Security analysts are sounding the alarm – Among experts and authorities there is great concern about privacy associated with the possible collection of sensitive data that the user has not authorized the company to collect.
- Problems that many professors don’t think about – There is a potential chance of misuse of collected data through AI for identity theft. This risk also exists in other applications.
Where it was taken, Temu was taken there
An online marketplace application called Temu was founded in the summer of 2022. It is based in the Cayman Islands and is backed by the investment company PPD Holdings of one of China’s richest men, Colin Huang. By itself, this application brings practically nothing that we don’t already know. It is practically an alternative to Aliexpress, Shein or Wish marketplaces in a slightly different guise.
Illustration image (Source: Temu)
The world is taking it by storm
During the last months, Temu focused on significant investments in marketing, but apart from classic ads on YouTube and social networks, it also focused to a large extent on influencers. It pays them a financial reward depending on the profile value and promotion method, but also rewards them with free products. This type of marketing is fine in itself, but it is risky on the part of a holding company with a turnover of 500 billion.
What are the risks of intensive advertising through influencers:
- A whole range of influencers nod at cooperation and do not address the quality of the service or its controversy.
- Advertising goes from influencers to people who trust them and thus have no tendency to search for additional information.
We rate Temu – another source of “everything”
Of course, the essence of the application itself is not bad at all – online marketplaces from China have won the hearts of people of all ages all over the world. At Temu, you can buy t-shirts with prints that you can’t find anywhere else, nice socks, electronics and baking paper. In addition, the application is pleasantly and clearly designed, if you are not opposed to consumerism, you basically have nothing to criticize the operator for.
A wide range of products is associated with a number of standard risks, which we do not want to discuss in this article, as they apply to virtually all unregulated online marketplaces (usually from China).
Advantages of Temu
- 8-16 day delivery with warranty (Temu credits the user with $5 in credits in case of non-fulfilment.
- Clarity and simplicity
- Wide sortiment
Disadvantages of Temu
- Uncertain quality of goods
- Frequent absence of health certificates valid in the EU
- Uncertain delivery
- Different goods may often arrive
- Long delivery time
Security analysts are sounding the alarm
Financial analyst Siegfried Eggert, head of the US company Grizzly Research, called Temu “the most dangerous application widely available in circulation”. At the heart of the allegations is that Temu, operated by Chinese giant PDD, allegedly runs “aggressive” data collection programs in the background without users’ explicit consent or knowledge.
According to reports, Temu aims to collect a wide range of personal information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, photos from the camera roll and links to social media profiles. In addition, the application collects technical data such as information about the device’s operating system, IP address and GPS location. Moreover, according to Grizzly Research’s findings, these processes should run without the user’s knowledge and permission.
Data collection has caused alarm for Temu – it allegedly collects personal data, including names, addresses and GPS coordinates of the user, without their informed consent (Source: Grizzly Research)
This extensive data collection raises privacy and security concerns for users who fear that their personal information may be misused (identity theft) or shared without their consent with third parties. Complicating the situation is the fact that Temu is owned by a Chinese company, raising concerns about the possible transfer of collected data to the Chinese Communist regime or other unauthorized entities.
An investigation into the risks of the application is currently underway and PPD Holding has been asked to comment.
Experts agree on risks, but not on impacts
Some experts sound the alarm, for example, a professor at the University of Delaware, Sheng Lu, confirmed the risks of the Temu application: “Similar to the case of the TikTok application, the rapid expansion of the Temu and Shein applications in the US leads to the collection of a large amount of personal data of consumers in the US.”.
Professor Milton L. Mueller of the University of Georgia counters that the data collected can only be espionage in nature if the application is used by government officials working in national security. According to him, the risk is virtually non-existent for ordinary users.
Problems that many professors don’t think about
For the last two years, we have been moving in a world in which AI, i.e. artificial intelligence, is spreading rapidly. But it is similar to fire – it is a good servant, but a bad master. At the same time, a large number of experts do not think about a completely fundamental risk. If the application collects user data, such as photos, voice or the way of writing on a mobile phone (beats per minute, accuracy and style of expression), the entity that receives this data can use AI to deal with it in really risky ways.
Today, it is no longer science fiction to imagine that an experienced “con” will be able to practically copy the source user using AI based on this data. The result can be a video of the person in question with their own voice and manner of expression. Regardless of that, we would like to appeal to readers to pay close attention to their data. In the future, carelessness may cause a problem.