Diangping has apologized after a user accused it of exposing her whereabouts without authorization and violating her privacy.
A Beijing-based user of the services platform, identified as Li, discovered last week that the app had been revealing her browsing history and comments to her friends, without her consent.
The uncomfortable experience began when Li allowed Dianping to access her personal info and contact list via WeChat, unbeknownst to her that they will publicize her activities to her circle of friends.
"Then I started getting feeds about what restaurants my friends are interested in, what places they have visited or what hotels they have checked in," Li told Chinese media outlet Economic Daily. "And all these people are my connections on WeChat."
Li thus began speculating that her own activities could as well be tracked by Dianping and might also had been pushed to her friends without her consent. "I use a handle when I comment, like or mark something because I like sharing my experiences with strangers [anonymously]," Li noted. "But now that my friends in real life could track my whereabouts on Dianping. I felt very uncomfortable."
She disabled Dianping’s function that allowed her WeChat friends from finding her and blocked the review forum from accessing her social media account – but that didn't help.
She still kept seeing the activities of some of her WeChat contacts on the application’s discovery page.
The unhappy user contacted Dianping's customer service, only to be told that the application had automatically linked her to 26 of her WeChat friends, also users of Dianping. Even if access to WeChat was denied, they were still connected on the other app.
Dianping came under fire for breaching users' privacy after Li's story emerged. On Monday, the company issued an apology on its Weibo account.
The platform also promised to upgrade its system to better protect user privacy, adding a new function to let users disable all social networking features within the application starting July 10.