Messaging app, accused of espionage, removed from Google Play for a second time
Initially, the allegations regarding the messaging app were brought to light by the New York Times, which published a report indicating that the app was actually a spying tool. The New York Times’ digital security expert in the Middle East had said that he was informed by senior Emirati officials that the app was a tool to track its users in the Emirates, as well as in foreign countries. Links between the company, which made the app, and Emirati hacking firms were also found.
Even though the app was more popular in the Middle East, it was downloaded in the US as well. According to a research firm called App Annie, ToTok was becoming one of the most downloaded social apps in the States, until it got removed from Google Play and App Store.
In December, The Times contacted Google and Apple to inquire about ToTok and days before the publication of the aforementioned report, both platforms had removed the app without specifying any reasons for the action. In retaliation, ToTok’s founders published a statement saying that the accusations were a “shameless fabrication” by “distractors”, who were spreading misinformation and aiming to ruin their business. The creators of the app also underlined that they have built the app with user security and privacy as a top priority.
Even though Google had previously reinstated the app to Google Play, it has removed it for a second time now without providing any explanation to an inquiry done by The Verge.
At this moment, the ToTok messaging app is unavailable for download on both Google Play and Apple Store.