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Why is the Ten Ten app causing worry among the French government?

Founders called to court for risk of serious threat to privacy

Why is the Ten Ten app causing worry among the French government? Founders called to court for risk of serious threat to privacy

No one really knew Ten Ten a month ago. But in just a few weeks, this French application, a kind of 21st-century walkie-talkie, has exploded in popularity, with millions of users (6M active per month), especially teenagers, rapidly adopting it. A popularity that has not failed to alert the authorities. On June 5th, the founders were summoned by the State Secretariat for Digital Affairs to discuss growing concerns. Ten Ten allows users to send live voice messages to their friends without them even being active on the app and without unlocking their phone, like a Walkie Talkie. As a result, the recipient is somewhat forced to hear the message, a feature that appeals due to its spontaneity. "Sing, shout or whisper… your friends will hear you in real-time, even when the phone is locked!", reads the description on the App Store. However, this simplicity also raises security and privacy concerns.

@imdylanoff @ten ten son original - ImDylanOff

Launched over a year ago, the app experienced a real boom in late May 2024, partly thanks to viral videos on TikTok. These videos, filmed by young users, show amusing or alarming situations – nighttime jolts due to voice messages, embarrassing situations in class caused by friends' voice messages when forgetting to mute them on the app. Some videos have reached hundreds of thousands, even millions of views, contributing to Ten Ten's notoriety. Jule Comar, Ten Ten's CEO, says: "We did not expect such success." He explains that what users like is the frictionless communication, without calls or ringtones, reminiscent of real-life interactions. "Ease of use and simplicity of the interface play a key role in this success, especially among the younger audience, who expect straightforward applications." He also reminds that the app is intended for "real" friends and that publicly sharing your pin is strongly discouraged to avoid receiving unwanted or inappropriate messages.

@tentenapp How to mute a friend

Concerns are real: data collection, risk of harassment, intrusion into privacy. Since the surge in downloads, several media outlets have echoed these concerns. The Ministry of the Interior, through its spokesperson Camille Chaize, warned of the potential dangers of the app, calling for cautious use. "Behind the fun, there are serious dangers to privacy and online security," she wrote, specifying that the live voice message system could increase the risk of harassment and intrusion. In response, Jule Comar assures that "the app does not collect more data than any other application" and promises to never sell this information. However, the possibility of interacting with strangers remains a sensitive point. Sure, Ten Ten insists it is intended for close friends, but users share their identifier publicly on TikTok, making it possible to be added by strangers. According to Jule Comar, "each user has control with the ability to mute notifications in real-time, in two clicks directly in the app".