The Ugly Truth Behind the Wish App

Wish App, an e-commerce site has become infamously known across the Internet. The platform has gained popularity for its odd listings and too-good-to-be-true prices. But does the Internet really know what goes on behind the scenes in order to provide a $15 smartphone?

Wish App was founded in 2010 by Piotr Szulczewsk, and Danny Zhang. The company is based in San Francisco, United States. The peculiar platform can be accessed worldwide, and roughly 95% of the marketplace sellers it hosts are located in China. The company initially began as an app in which users would create “Wish Lists” for desired products. Wish would then direct the users to merchants. However, in 2013, Wish became an e-commerce site, asking the merchants to host products directly on the site. It is now very similar to its leading competitors: Amazon and Alibaba.

A huge aspect of the Wish App that has garnered attention is its use of advertisements. With hamster leashes and phallic objects plastered all over social media, no wonder people check Wish out. Why are they so weird? One primary reason is Facebook and its algorithms. 

Facebook’s algorithm seems to favor peculiar and disturbing items. This is due to the idea that the stranger the item, the more curiosity begins to spike in a consumer, resulting in them clicking the ad, thus directing them to Wish. A recent Facebook development allows for the entire Wish marketplace to be uploaded to Facebook. So, rather than Facebook advertising car accessories to people who like cars, and dog food to those with dogs, Facebook shows everyone…anything. And the more people click on a certain ad, the more it will be spread.

The Wish App also requires one to create an account on the website before having the ability to view its items. Once you’ve done so, Wish has access to your email, IP address, and other information, allowing for further advertising.

Once you’ve entered the site, you’ll see that the products are noticeably cheap. Wish sells wedding dresses, bikes, computers, and more for under $100. But how is this possible? Unlike Amazon, the company does not have brick-and-mortar stores or warehouses where the products are held. Therefore, Wish App does not have the need to hire factory workers itself, and leaves the creation and shipment almost entirely up to the manufacturers. This is not the only reason Wish is so cheap, in fact, it gets pretty dark.

In China, labor laws do exist, one of the laws being the fact that one must be 16 in order to be employed. However, with the increasing need for mass production in the country, this law is often overlooked by factories. An appalling number of children work extreme hours with very little pay. They are baited with promises of money for family, school, and food.

Unfortunately, even with exhausting days and working through the night, they receive so little that the promises are rarely fulfilled.  It has been estimated that roughly 10 million children (ages between five and fourteen) across China work in these factories, working up to 16 hours a day. The working conditions are so poor, that hundreds of children end up dying from fumes and chemicals. If they survive, they are often left with a multitude of physical and mental damages including the loss of limbs, eyesight, and lung diseases. So much to endure for wages of $1 a day, or less. 

All of this for what? The majority of items from Wish have such poor quality they are often returned or tossed out. If one was pleased with what they purchased, they would be one of the lucky few. According to, Wish App has barely a two-star rating with over 900 reviews. The reviews claim the e-commerce site is a “scam” with “repulsive customer service.” 

Wish App has come under fire for its scam-like business model and false advertising. A common criticism of the Wish App is its thievery. This includes massive amounts of counterfeit goods. The manufacturers will steal images, claim they sell those for a large discount, and the item arrives broken and full of illegal chemicals. The act of selling counterfeit goods is illegal in many locations, but due to the laws in China, it is very difficult to press charges against the companies. And Wish avoids being to blame, as it is simply a “marketplace.”

The act of purchasing from the Wish App unfortunately supports the selling of counterfeit goods and encourages the companies to continue with child labor and strenuous hours. Due to this, many social media influencers have been bombarded by negative feedback and disapproval by their fans for promoting the application. Let this be a reminder that not everything is as good as it seems.

-Kelsi DeBrower

7 thoughts on “The Ugly Truth Behind the Wish App

  1. I think this post is particularly interesting to me because I have seen these ads pop up for a while and never clicked into them because they seemed like a scam. I think with more awareness, it won’t take long until we see the end of the wish app and disturbing ads from wish popping up. The ads I saw weren’t too bad, but the prices for things like golf clubs and stuff seemed way too good to be true and it makes sense as to why now.

  2. At this point in the age of the internet, I wonder if it’s even worth my time to worry about my information being collected. It sucks that my online habits are constantly tracked, but at this point, what can be done about it? As Wish is a Chinese site, I find this data collection especially concerning. There’s already no privacy for citizens of China, but now it seems like that lack of privacy is spreading to other countries as well.

  3. I have seen some of these ads pop up while I am on social media. I have always wondered why and how they got there. A long time ago I downloaded the app just because there was so much buzz around it and I wanted to see what it was all about but I never bought anything. Now i’m glad that I didn’t because it probably would have came in bad quality. Great post!

  4. This was very interesting to me because I have definitely seen these ads pop up on my FB feed before and I know for a fact I’ve NEVER liked anything relating to it!

    I definitely feel like creepy ads about terrible quality items that are made in essentially sweat shops is horrible. I don’t know anyone who has personally ordered through Wish, but I do know people who have ordered through similar companies, like Shein. One of my coworkers ordered some clothes for a summer festival through Shein and they never came. She spent over $60-70 and was basically out all of that money. She emailed their help service contact and a representative got back to her stating that they were “doing everything in their power to get the clothes tracked and shipped,” but at this point she just wanted her money and when she said that, they ignored it and stopped responding.

    I think all of those apps are terrible, especially when the companies are taking advantage of people and forcing them to work for almost no money in horrible conditions. It’s all really just a scam and none of the products are what you think they are anyways.

  5. I can’t help but wonder how businesses like this stay afloat! Why is there not more education coming from the news to stop people from from purchasing items from this website?

  6. I never look too much into the ads that I come across because a lot of them seem fake. I tend to stick with the companies I know to get products. Nonetheless, what Wish is doing is highly unethical and shedding light on their actions makes me think how many other companies are conducting shady business. Regardless, I will take more precaution when it comes for purchasing products from lesser-known companies.

  7. I found this quite interesting, I do wonder how much they track our moves because of all the information they collect but who knows. I do find it concerning that we’re in 2019 and there is still child labor in multiple parts of the globe that still goes undiscussed and not dealt with. It’s sad that people live in such poverty that they have to end up working in factories that cause so much damage.

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