You probably started reading this article thinking it’s about TikTok. It’s not. It’s the new social platform in town. Okay not town literally, but it is the one making the most noise in the market. Why? Nothing huge, it just seems that this app could be a gateway for the United Arab Emirates to spy on its users. Caught your attention, didn’t it? Read on my friend, it’s going to get a whole lot shadier.
The Reach of ToTok
ToTok is a messaging app that offers free messaging, voice calls and video calls. A fun feature is that a conference call can accommodate upto 20 users. It was introduced this year (Yup, it’s brand new!) and was widely popularized Emirati publications. It was accepted equally well by the people because of the government’s various restrictions on global apps like Whatsapp and Skype. Talking about popularity, let me lay down some interesting facts. The app saw huge downloads on iOS App Store and Google Play store. By huge I mean, around 7.9 million downloads which in December amounted up to nearly 2 million daily users. Geographically, countries like the USA, UK, India and Sweden have been amongst the top contenders of maximum downloads.
So, what exactly is the problem?
The New York Times, one of the most esteemed publications around the globe, ran an investigation on ToTok recently in December wherein they claimed that it is a spying tool for the Emirati government. The app is said to be linked to a company called Breek Holding. This company in turn is said to be the front face of another company called DarkMatter. As you must have sensed, we are nearing the shady part of this story. DarkMatter is an intelligence Emirati company which is under the FBI radar for cybercrimes. It is also alleged to have links to CIA and NSA analysts which is not creating a great argument for this app to work as smoothly as it’d like.
First things first, delete the app if it exists on your phone. It’s already been taken off from both the App Store and Play Store. Secondly, this could just be a cooked up theory based on a lot of speculations or it could be a multi-layered spyware scandal that will unfold very very soon. Either way, it’s extremely important to be a smart netizen in this highly digitalized world.
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