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E-commerce ethics in question with Temu’s privacy policies outrage

E-commerce ethics in question with Temu's privacy policies outrage
E-commerce ethics in question with Temu's privacy policies outrage

Temu’s marketing strategies are scrutinized, raising questions about data privacy issues in the e-commerce sector. 

Its recent controversial cash giveaway promotion, allowing customers to “spin the wheel” to win discounted vouchers, required personal data from the user. This sparked concerns about the safety and privacy of the end user. 

After several red flags were raised, Temu changed the terms and conditions. However, it only happened after pressure mounted to explain the giveaway. Users worldwide questioned the promotion and marketing deals by engaging in viral campaigns and boycotts on social media. 

While the prominent Chinese e-tailer has reached center stage in the e-commerce scene in just the last two years, it’s already a fierce competitor for the same audience as Shein, Alibaba, and Amazon. 

What personal data is Temu collecting? 

Within 24 hours, users must sign up other people using a shareable link to receive extra cash rewards in credits. Countless users compete for these coupons, posting links across all social media platforms.

The BBC reports that the user then gives the Temu consent to use and publish their photo, name, voice, opinions, statements, biographical information, and hometown or state for promotional purposes. 

Temu is facing at least two class-action lawsuits over data privacy concerns. It’s alleged that the e-commerce platform fails to “safeguard customers’ personal data and misleading users,” reports TODAY news channel. 

Security of personal information 

Previously Temu had ‘normal’ privacy terms and conditions, but recently updated it, making a u-turn after questions were raised. 

In this photo (above), the last update on the privacy document is just from a few days ago. The e-commerce platform now states that the “personal information collected, processed, and used as part of the program will be used according to the Sponsor’s privacy policy.”

It’s also treading carefully, stipulating that it’s “dedicated to maintaining transparency.” Ironically, there are several stages in the app where the user has to fill in permission presumably, for collecting personal data. However, with its updated privacy document, it now vows to “minimize requests.”

Temu claims cyber security is at the top of its mind, hoping to keep customers digitally safe with its cybersecurity agency HackerOne

Following the BBC’s investigation, Temu acknowledged that “certain aspects [of the privacy document] were overly broad. [It also] pledged to use customer data solely for referral functioning and winner announcements.” 

E-commerce data safety

There is now growing awareness of data privacy in the e-commerce sector. There are calls for businesses to release their data collection practices and to be more transparent with customers. 

Ethical data handling practices are coming to the forefront, with Temu’s rival, Shein, also requesting personal data from users. Temu is not the only application using customers’ personal data. 

It, however, serves as a reminder for businesses to prioritize clarity and transparency during interactions. This could be a golden reminder for companies to mitigate potential risks associated with data privacy concerns. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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