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Remove China Apps Becomes Top Free App on Google Play in India Amidst Anti-China Sentiment

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Remove China Apps, an Android app that claims to identify China-made apps on your Android phone and remove them, has gone viral in India. The app is currently at the top spot of Google Play’s top free apps list and it has been downloaded by over 10 lakh users since its launch on May 17. This development comes at a time when anti-China sentiment is high in the country, sparked by the novel coronavirus pandemic, India-China border dispute, and more. Another app playing on similar sentiments – Mitron – has also gained traction over the last several days and is being touted as an alternate to TikTok.

What is Remove China Apps?

The creators of the Remove China Apps claim that the app is “developed for educational purposes” and it allows users to “identify” the country of origin of certain apps installed on their Android phones. However, as the name suggests, it only identifies apps that are developed by Chinese companies and users can further uninstall them through Remove China Apps if they wish to.

It is also noted that the app went live on Google Play on May 17 and since its launch, it has been downloaded by over 10 lakh users. The app has largely received positive reviews with 4.8 rating on the Google Play Store.

Remove China Apps: What is it meant for?

Remove China Apps is free to download on Google Play Store. The app does not require a login to a function and users can simply select “scan” to identify the Chinese apps on their Android phones.

Notably, the Remove China Apps only seems to be detecting the apps installed by users from Google Play Store or other third-party app stores on their phones, and not the ones pre-installed on Chinese smartphone makers.

Moreover, the Remove China Apps is developed by the OneTouch AppLabs that has only this app listed on Google Play Store. OneTouch AppLabs claims that the company is based in Jaipur and the domain ownership site, Whois reveals that the website was created on 8 May. OneTouch AppLabs website also states that the company provides services in Android and iOS app development and hybrid app development.

Why is Remove China Apps getting so popular?

The Remove China Apps is being widely downloaded at a time when anti-China sentiments are on the rise in the country. This sentiment is sparked by several controversies such as the YouTube vs TikTok row, India-China border dispute, and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Notably, a survey recently indicated that 67 percent of Indians hold China responsible for the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, due to these controversies, several Indians are now looking for alternatives to Chinese products and phone apps. Recently, another app called Mitron crossed over 50 Lakh downloads on Google Play Store, that many believe is India’s response to China’s TikTok, however a recent report indicated that Mitron app’s source code was purchased from a Pakistani firm.

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Facebook Repairs Bug That Prompted Brief iOS App Outages

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Popular smartphone apps including Spotify and Pinterest suffered outages Friday for a few hours due to a bug in Facebook’s systems.

Facebook has resolved the problem, a spokesperson said.

“Earlier today, a code change triggered crashes for some iOS apps using the Facebook SDK,” or software development kit, the spokesperson said.

“We identified the issue quickly and resolved it. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

App users began reporting on Twitter early Friday that they were unable to open Spotify and other sites.

Downdetector, which monitors for internet problems in real time, showed a rise in problems for a number of applications, including Spotify, Pinterest, Waze, and The New York Times.

It reported a major spike in problems around 10:30am GMT (4pm IST), and a decline in user issues at around 1pm GMT (6:30pm IST).

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Amazon Bans, Then Un-Bans TikTok From Employee Mobile Devices

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 July 2020

Amazon on Friday said it mistakenly sent workers an email telling them to dump the TikTok mobile application from their cell phones because of security concerns.

The internal message told workers they could still access the popular video-snippet sharing platform using laptop web browsers, but would lose access to company email on smartphones that have TikTok.

“This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error,” an Amazon spokesperson said in reply to an AFP inquiry without going into detail.

“There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

The concern expressed in the internal message appeared to be that the TikTok mobile app could access Amazon company email, according to a copy posted online.

“User security is of the utmost importance to TikTok -– we are fully committed to respecting the privacy of our users,” a spokeswoman for the company said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

She added that TikTok welcomed “a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have.”

The Democratic National Committee is advising campaign staff to avoid using TikTok on personal devices and, if they do, to keep the app on a smartphone separate from that used for work, given the amount of data it can track, a DNC official told AFP.

TikTok this week withdrew from Hong Kong in an exit seen partly as an effort to shake off the “label of it being a company that is controlled by China and shares data with the Chinese government,” Zhu Zhiqun, a political science professor at Bucknell University in the United States, told AFP.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China.

The app’s feeds of 15- to 60-second video clips are often fun and humorous, featuring everything from make-up tutorials to dance routines.

However, with its rising popularity in the United States, TikTok has also come under increasing scrutiny from the government here.

US President Donald Trump said this week he was considering banning it as a way to punish China over the coronavirus pandemic.

Top US lawmakers have raised concerns over the potential for TikTok to leak user data to the Chinese government.

India — where TikTok is also wildly popular — recently blocked the platform on national security grounds following a deadly border clash between its soldiers and Chinese forces.

TikTok staunchly denies snooping allegations.

“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

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TikTok Says Removed Over 49 Million Videos in Second Half of 2019

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 July 2020

Social media app TikTok said on Thursday it removed more than 49 million videos from its platform in the second half of last year for violating its guidelines.

These videos accounted for less than 1 percent of the total posted on the platform and fell under categories such as “violent and graphic content, hate speech and adult nudity”, it said in a report released on its website.

About one-third of the videos were from India, followed by the United States, and Pakistan, it added.

The transparency report comes days after the company owned by China’s ByteDance was banned from India, one of its biggest markets, after a Sino-India border clash. The short-form video making app also decided to exit the Hong Kong market following China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

TikTok launched a new platform to court small business advertisers on Wednesday. The platform, however, was fraught with challenges, especially after the Trump administration’s threat this week to impose a ban on China-based social media apps.


© Thomson Reuters 2020

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