ToTok, the popular messaging application, has been removed from the App Store and the Google Play Store. The New York Times reported on an investigation by US officials, which found that the app was a spy tool in the United Arab Emirates.
The app, which was launched in July, was downloaded by millions of users around the world. In this investigation, they claim that the app is capable of monitoring every conversation, movement, relationship, quote, sound and image of its users.
The United Arab Emirates is a heavily policed country, and this year’s Human Rights Watch report found that the country “arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared” those who criticize the government (including through comments on social networks).
Although most users are in the Emirates, if you have it installed, it may be a good idea to remove it from your device.
ToTok gained a lot of popularity in this country because applications like WhatsApp or Skype are blocked, so many users saw this tool as a good free and functional alternative. The popularity of this application quickly spread to other Middle Eastern countries, and then to the rest of the world, becoming a trend in the US App Store.
As a messaging application, ToTok has access to the user’s microphone, camera, photos, calendar, location or contacts. After investigation, they are accused of using this sensitive information to monitor them. If we also remember that there are not many alternatives in the country, it would be a really smart strategy to launch a kind of Trojan horse with hidden intentions inside.
A few hours ago, ToTok published a post on its blog and, surprisingly, instead of responding to these accusations, the company decided to emphasize the “tens of millions of users from hundreds of countries” who have decided to install the app. They also talk about ToTok’s “high security standards” and comment that they have disappeared from the main mobile application stores: “ToTok is temporarily unavailable in these two stores due to a technical problem”.
“While current ToTok users continue to enjoy our service without interruption, we would like to inform our new users that we are very committed to Google and Apple to solve the problem”.
In the investigation published by the New York Times, they claim that ToTok was removed from the Google store for violating “unspecified policies” and that Apple is investigating the application.