Google blocks Pinduoduo apps from Play Store over malware fears

Pinduoduo logo on Android smartphone
(Image credit: / rafapress)

Google has suspended Chinese ecommerce giant Pinduoduo from its Play Store amid security concerns.

The Android maker is urging customers to uninstall the app from their devices, including any installs made from third-party app stores and other downloads.

Bloomberg states that it’s unclear whether other local app stores including those by Huawei, Xiaomi, and Tencent, have made any action against Pinduoduo and parent company PDD Holdings, given that the Google Play Store is not available in the country.

Pinduoduo blocked

Pinduoduo allows customers to buy fresh produce from farmers in a country whose citizens are increasingly conscious of food quality. The app has since gone on to amass more active users than Alibaba in China.

A Google spokesperson explained: “The Off-Play versions of the e-commerce app that have been found to contain malware have been enforced on via Google Play Protect,” a service on by default that’s designed to check for potentially harmful apps from the Google Play Store and other sources, which forms part of a larger protective layer that can be enabled with the best privacy apps.

HardenedVault CEO Shawn Chang explained that previous versions of the app’s code found on GitHub show malware present. The app appears to use n-day and zero-day exploits to target Android parcel serialization/deserialization, in turn gaining system privileges.

A Pinduoduo spokesperson told TechRadar Pro

"We strongly reject the speculation and accusation that Pinduoduo app is malicious just from a generic and non-conclusive response from Google. Google Play has informed us this morning that Pinduoduo APP, among several other apps, has been temporarily suspended as the current version is not compliant with Google’s Policy, but has not shared more details. We are communicating with Google for more information. We have been told that there are several other apps that have been suspended as well."

PDD Holdings also operates Temu in North America, an online marketplace app whose consumers primarily receive products direct from China.

This comes at a time when western governments are increasingly less trusting in Chinese companies, with many official bodies banning apps like TikTok from company- and state-owned devices amid cybersecurity fears.

A new cybersecurity strategy announced earlier this month named China and Russia as the two largest threats to the US.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!