ToTok chat app removed from app stores, cites technical issue only

It's not uncommon for apps to suddenly disappear from app stores for any number of reasons. Sometimes the developer or publisher decides to pull out an app, other times Google or Apple slaps them with some violation of policy. The latter might be the case with the once-popular but now notorious ToTok messaging app that has been reported to be a spying tool used by the Emerati government. Curiously, the app's developers only cite a technical issue but skirts around addressing any of the allegations that brought about the removal in the first place.

There has been a recent rash of apps accused or revealed to have backdoors that give some governments access to otherwise private user data. That was the case with Russia's FaceApp and, more recently, China's TikTok. The ToTok chat app that mostly serves the MENA region is the latest to be added to that list and perhaps the first to come from that region to gain widespread use even in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Response to the report was rather swift and ToTok was removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store pending investigation. Users still had access to the service if they have already installed the app but ToTok appears unlisted for anyone else that searches for it. Neither Google nor Apple has issued statements but the app's developers have somewhat broken their silence.

They don't mention anything related to the issue but instead advertises the testimonies given by satisfied users. They also list the technologies used to secure messages, technologies that can be rendered ineffective if some entity has backdoor access anyway. ToTok was supposedly removed due to a technical issue, which implies it isn't a policy violation in that context.

Interestingly, other app stores have been slower to act on the matter as ToTok says the app is still available from Samsung, Huawei, and Xiaomi app stores. They're also offering a more direct way to download and sideload an APK which will, of course, bypass most security measures on Android phones.