Google Play suspends Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo over suspected malware

·3 min read

Google's Play store has suspended Pinduoduo, a popular shopping app in China, citing the discovery of malware, just as its sibling app Temu has been climbing download charts in the US market.

The Google Play page for Pinduoduo, the main app operated by PDD Holdings known for its cut-to-the-bone deals, was inaccessible as of Tuesday, while Temu remains available.

Google said in a statement that it found malware in some versions of Pinduoduo available for download outside the Play store.

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"Users that have malicious versions of the app downloaded to their devices are warned and prompted to uninstall the app," the company said.

The headquarters of Pinduoduo in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters alt=The headquarters of Pinduoduo in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters>

A PDD representative on Tuesday denied that the Pinduoduo app contains malware.

"We strongly reject the speculation and accusation that the Pinduoduo app is malicious just from a generic and non-conclusive response from Google," a company spokesman said. "We are communicating with Google for more information."

The alleged existence of malware in versions of Pinduoduo has become a hot topic of discussion among Chinese computer engineers in online communities such as GitHub in the past few days. The South China Morning Post, owned by Pinduoduo rival Alibaba Group Holding, is unable to verify technical allegations.

In China, Pinduoduo remained available for download in local Android app stores run by Huawei Technologies Co, Xiaomi and others as of late Tuesday afternoon. Google Play is blocked in the country.

Global concerns about the data security of Chinese apps have been on the rise recently, with Washington reportedly demanding that TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance sell the app or face a ban in the United States.

The Temu app seen in Apple's App Store. Photo: Shutterstock alt=The Temu app seen in Apple's App Store. Photo: Shutterstock>

PDD, which changed its name from Pinduoduo last month, has been advancing on its ambitions to become a multinational e-commerce giant following the initial success of its Boston-based budget shopping app Temu - pronounced tee moo - in the US.

The app is said to be launching in the UK later this week, after entering Australia, New Zealand and Canada in recent weeks.

PDD chairman and CEO Chen Lei said in a conference call on Monday that the firm's overseas business remains in the early stage of development and Temu's current impact on the company's overall financial performance is relatively small.

Shares of PDD, which reported worse-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter, were down by 14 per cent on Monday.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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