Mitron, The TikTok Challenger Is Not Made In India; It’s A Pakistani App Bought For Rs 2500!
As TikTok is going through a crisis, over 50 lakh people have downloaded its clone ‘Mitron’. Mitron’s appealing factor to the audience appears to be its anti-TikTok narratives and also that it is Indian.
As per recent reports by News18, Mitron app appears to have not been made by an IIT student, after all. Mitron app’s entire source code, including its full set of features and the user interface, was bought from Pakistani software developer company, Qboxus.
Now the question remains, is it safe to have this app on your phone?
What makes ‘Mitron’ a threat?
The Mitron app lets you upload short videos just like TikTok.
Gadgets 360 did a basic whois lookup on that domain name, and the only information they got was that the domain was registered via GoDaddy and the address is Uttarakhand. Mitron was reportedly developed by an IIT-Roorkee student, so the Uttarakhand address does appear to add up. However, that’s a weak connection at best.
Regarding app permissions, Mitron does ask for a lot of permissions on your Android phones. Mitron needs access to your photos, internal storage, camera, microphone, flashlight, and the ability to prevent your device from sleeping. It should be noted that this is needed for a video sharing app.
Mitron’s developer was probably unaware of its sudden fame but it’s risky to give unknown people the benefit of the doubt when your personal information, your private videos, your stored photos, are at stake.
Now you have to decide whether to put your personal information at stake for an app!
Is ‘Mitron’ Pakistani or Indian?
According to Irfan Sheikh, founder and chief executive of Qboxus, his company sold the source code of their app to Mitron’s promoter for $34 (~Rs 2,600).
Sheikh told News18, “We expect our customers to use our code and build something on their own. But Mitron’s developer has taken our exact product, changed the logo and uploaded it on their store.”
However, Sheikh asserts that the problem is not this. “There is no problem with what the developer has done. He paid for the script and used it, which is okay. But, the problem is with people referring to it as an Indian-made app, which is not true especially because they have not made any changes.”
Sheikh further confirmed that the app was sold by his company to Mitron for $34 on CodeCanyon, which is about Rs 2,600. When asked about the data hosting process, Sheikh said that while Qboxus does offer the option to host user data on their server, Mitron did not opt for that, and has instead chosen to host their user data on their own server. However, there has been no clarity on Mitron’s treatment of user data so far.
ShopKiller.in, which is the promoter behind the Mitron app, said, “We want to work in stealth mode, and didn’t want people to know us by our name. I found (the article) a little disappointing. I would have liked you to appreciate the fact that we are working hard on the app, and the reason for developing the app was just to give a ‘Make In India’ alternative to people.”
Who is Qboxus and What Do They Do?
Purchasing an app’s source code and using it with a different name is not illegal or unprecedented. In the past, Qboxus has built multiple apps that work as clones of other popular apps.
Some of its offerings include Hashgram (based on Instagram), Foodies Single Restaurant (akin to Zomato) and TicTic (replicated from TikTok). Among others, the latter that happens to be one of their most popular listings on the Google Play Store, with over 5,000 downloads and 50-odd reviews with a rating of 3.3.
Alongside offering these apps as direct downloads, Qboxus also offers the source codes of their apps for purchase by other interested parties. Some apps apart from Mitron, which were based on Qboxus’ TicTic, and hence offer a very similar interface as Mitron, include ‘Follow’ (released in September 2019), KidsTok (released in December 2019) and HotToks (released in December 2019).
As a result, there is no ground for Mitron and its team, which still wants to work ‘in stealth mode’, to claim that its app is a built in India alternative to TikTok that has been developed by them from scratch. In fact, the team has not even put the effort of changing the interface one bit, which makes for clearly fraudulent practice.