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Added Jan 19, 2017 at 10:39AM EST by Adam.

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Meitu is a Chinese photo-editing app for iOS and Android. With the app, users can upload pictures of themselves and apply one of several features, such as airbrushing or skin-blemish removal, to the photo. The app surged in popularity in America and the UK in 2017 when people began sharing pictures using the app's Anime-like filters that gave users' photos large eyes and a hand-drawn art-style.

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Meitu was developed by Chinese company Xiamen Meitu Technology in 2008.[1][2] It remained a popular app in Asia. In 2014, the app was valued at $2 billion dollars. Investors include Innovation Works, IDG, Qiming Venture Partners, Tiger Fund, Ce Yuan Ventures, H Capital, Foxconn and China Asset Management Co., Ltd.

2017 Surge

When the app was released in the UK in January of 2017, it surged in popularity, going from the 973rd to the 68th most popular free app between January 14th and January 18th.[1] It instantly generated media buzz. Telegraph,[3] The Independent,[4] SelectAll,[5] and many more media outlets covered the app's surge in popularity, and Twitter users' use was compiled in a Twitter Moment[6] on the 19th. One of the most popular uses of the app has been to upload pictures of Donald Trump. Pictures of Trump in the filter have served as header images on Select All, Telegraph, and more.

Data Security Controversy

On January 19th, 2017, Twitter user @FourOctets[8] tweeted that the Meitu app was sending IMEI data back to servers in China (shown below). That day, the tweet reached the front page of the /r/Android[7] subreddit, where it garnered upwards of 7,800 points (91% upvoted) and 450 comments.

FourOctets @FourOctets Follow Just to let you guys know that photo app that makes you look an anime is sending you IMIE to several servers in China 97 FourOctets @FourOctets @Laughing_Mantis I had my doubts but guess what! Destination RETWEETS LIKES 2,103 974 2:47 AM-19 Jan 2017 39 t 2.1 K 974

Later that day, @FourOctets[9] noted that the application demands access to other unnecessary personal data, including GPS coordinates, SMS messages, external storage and calendar. The following day, the tech news blog Ars Technica[10] published an article about the data security controversy. Meanwhile Meitu released a statement claiming all personal data was collected to "better understand our consumer engagement with in-app advertisements."

"Meitu’s sole purpose for collecting the data is to optimize app performance, its effects and features and to better understand our consumer engagement with in-app advertisements. Meitu DOES NOT sell user data in any form…Data collected is sent securely, using multilayer encryption servers equipped with advanced firewall and IDS, IPS protection to block external attacks."

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