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The North Star Online

The official news site of J.W. North High School

The North Star Online

Is Temu Ethical?

CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Because of the holiday season, many people scatter around to find presents to give to their loved ones. Most people don’t want to spend too much money on a gift, so they scavenge for a place that sells items at a cheap price. Temu is a great example of an app that sells items at a cheap price, an extremely cheap price.

Temu became popular once it was featured in a 2023 Super Bowl ad. Temu is an app filled with bags, luggage, electronics, clothes, school supplies, kitchen supplies, toys, games, health items, jewelry, and the list goes on. The cheap prices, the discounts, and the rewards are what keeps the customers coming back for more.

Temu seemed like a normal shopping app, but because it is extremely cheap, it is separated from other businesses such as Amazon. Since the prices on Temu are extremely cheap, many people have become suspicious of whether Temu is “legit” or not. 

The test for whether Temu was “legit” happened once people started to buy from them. People would even make and post videos to prove that what they ordered was real, and the items were 100% real.

Temu’s popularity has been growing for a while now, and business is still going strong. However, there is still a floating question, “Is Temu ethical?”

There is no clear answer to this question, but there is some information that makes people question whether it is good to buy from.

According to Wiser, Temu is not an ethical brand from recent findings and reports. A U.S. Congressional Report had people worried about Temu’s operations. This report states that there is an extremely high risk of Temu being associated with forced labor. However, these facts from the report should not be used to immediately say that Temu is an unethical company.  

According to CBS, a customer said, “I believe they are scammers” because they never got any of the items they ordered from Temu, which cost them $50.

There are mixed reviews on Temu, which only makes it harder to assume if it is a safe shopping company or not. 

According to WCPO, Jennifer Graham Kizer tried out Temu and wanted to see if the company could be called trustworthy. She claimed that Temu is similar to Amazon, the only difference being that Temu has cheaper prices. Kizer bought a skirt for one of her daughters off of Temu for $12, and said this about the quality of the skirt, “It’s like something you would see at H&M or Forever 21” which is decent quality.

Temu has faced controversy with the United States government due to these allegations. The U.S. accused Temu of potential data risks after its other version in China, Pinduoduo, was suspended by Google for containing malware. (ZDNET)

Pinduoduo, the sister app of Temu, was found to have malware in it. Experts had engineers look into Pinduoduo by reverse engineering, and they confirmed that it tries to gain access to things that a normal app wouldn’t be able to access. (CNN)

Temu on the other hand is not like Pinduoduo in the sense that there has been no malicious malware found within the app. Temu is also not aggressive with collecting their user’s information, data, and app permissions, unlike Pinduoduo.

Luckily for the customers of Temu, “There have been no reports of the malicious functionality present in official Play, AppStore, or third-party versions of Temu. The keys used to sign the Pinduoduo malware are not the same keys used to sign the Temu app,” stated Daniel Thanos, vice president of Arctic Wolf Labs, the threat intelligence arm of cybersecurity (CNBC).

But Temu does not have any system to ensure agreement with UFLPA [Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act] making it seem suspicious. UFLPA is supposed to guarantee that shipments containing products are not made with forced labor when entering the United States (BBC).

Temu is one of the most downloaded apps in America, and it will continue to have an impact on the economy. As it is rising in popularity, it endangers other online shopping apps such as Amazon or even Shein.

It is not clear whether Temu actually is “ethical or not”. Most of these points are suspicions, and should not be used to blame Temu for being shady. While there are the brighter sides to Temu, such as being helpful for people who are on a budget, there are darker sides, like the suspicions of malware and forced labor. It all just depends on the risk a customer is willing to take when shopping in Temu.

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Sonia Acedo-Lopez, Reporter

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