Temu seemingly came out of nowhere; the online marketplace site was the talk of TikTok last year due to its surprisingly affordable items and the fact that it connects buyers directly with sellers worldwide. Despite this, the prominent ads for the online shop that aired multiple times during the Super Bowl on Sunday have caused quite a controversy. Turns out Temu has been at the center of a number of controversies during its short lifetime.
The ad itself seemed pretty normal, if you’re not familiar with Temu and its history, then you probably wouldn’t have thought much of it. It shows the great deals you can get shopping with the app along with the slogan “Shop like a billionaire.” There were multiple Super Bowl spots, and with it costing around $7 million for 30 seconds of air time at the massive sporting event, you can imagine how much money was spent for this. Honestly though, the most surprising thing about all this has to be finding out it’s pronounced Teh-mu not Tee-mu.
The Temu drama, explained
Of course, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. People were quick to point out that while you can get legit items from the app for a good price, there are so many drawbacks to using the app — from the lack of data security, to the scams and knock-off items for sale. Let’s just say the site doesn’t have the best reputation.
First of all, the quality of the items can sometimes differ quite a bit from what was advertised. While more reputable sites like Amazon have measures in place to avoid false advertising, it seems that Temu is not quite on the same page yet. While there are definitely legit items for sale, there’s more of a risk that the buyer won’t get what they paid for. However, many have been willing to overlook this due to the incredibly low prices. In short, Temu is kind of like the Wild West of e-commerce sites.
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg; the accusations against Temu get a whole lot worse from here on out. Supposedly, the app has ties to the CCP due to its owner, PDD Holdings, being a Chinese company. According to Snopes, there are concerns that user’s data could be accessed by the Chinese government because of this. It’s the same deal with TikTok, and it’s why the U.S. government is keeping an eye on apps like these. However, there isn’t any proof that companies owned by Chinese nationals have anything to do with the CCP. Regardless, according to CNN, lawmakers in the U.S. are still concerned, and believe that the app could be spying on users.
CNN business has also reported on claims that the Chinese version of the app can bypass phone security and monitor activity on other apps. However, this does not implicate Temu in the accusations.
That’s not even the worst bit. Of all the accusations levied against Temu, perhaps the most damning is the possible forced labor. According to The Select Committee on the CCP, Temu has avoided “bearing responsibility for compliance with the UFLPA and other prohibitions on forced labor.” U.S. lawmakers have stated that there is a “very high risk” that goods from the app have been produced from use of forced labor.
Has Temu changed?
Image via ShopTemu
Naturally, all of the accusations against the app have really soured its reputation in the minds of customers. However, the recent ads at the Super Bowl have caused confusion. Many are now asking if Temu has suddenly become a reputable company overnight — after all, surely the NFL wouldn’t want to associate itself with a company that has and continues to engage in such shady activities.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any proof that Temu has changed its business practices so far. So the question is, how did Temu get its ads aired with such a bad reputation? Well, despite the fact that users can still get scammed, there hasn’t been any conclusive proof that the app is harvesting data, or that there is actual forced labor involved with the making of products (that could change in the future though). So far, U.S. lawmakers are just suspicious of the app, so it seems like that is good enough to allow the ads to run on Sunday.
Obviously there has been an outcry against the ads due to the fact that the company behind Temu doesn’t seem as though it can be trusted. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Representative Michelle Park Steel (R-CA) tweeted their strong opinions about the ads on Sunday. Despite the fancy ads, it’s still the same old Temu; if you didn’t feel like you could trust it before, you probably won’t feel any different now.