Google has suspended PDD Holdings Inc’s (拼多多) main Chinese shopping app, Pinduoduo, after discovering malware in unsanctioned versions of the software, dealing a blow to one of the country’s biggest online retailers.
The Mountain View, California-based company yesterday said that it is investigating the matter and suspended downloads of the Play Store version of Pinduoduo as a security precaution.
Google did not mention Temu, PDD’s shopping app for the US, which remained available to download.
The action might cast a cloud over the company at a time when US lawmakers have accused Chinese-owned apps such as TikTok of potentially threatening national security.
While Pinduoduo is largely used in China, it is rare for Google to freeze downloads of a major app of its size and scale.
Google warned people to uninstall off-store versions of Pinduoduo.
It was unclear whether other local app stores run by Huawei Technologies Co (華為), Xiaomi Corp (小米) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) are looking into the allegations.
PDD’s main shopping app serves more than 700 million people monthly, mainly Chinese, and is more commonly downloaded via domestic platforms as Google’s is not available in the country.
A PDD representative did not respond to a request for comment.
“Google Play Protect enforcement has been set to block installation attempts of these identified malicious apps,” a Google spokesperson said. “Users that have malicious versions of the app downloaded to their devices are warned and prompted to uninstall the app.”
The Chinese online retailer, which reported disappointing sales on Monday, has in the past few years taken market share from leaders Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) and JD.com Inc (京東) while aggressively expanding in North America with Temu.
Investors had previously pushed PDD shares to their highest in more than a year, identifying the eight-year-old company as a winner in the escalating battle to win over Chinese consumers.
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