Facebook pays (even underage) users who disclose their smartphone activity via app. Apple has put a stop to the snooping application on iOS in the App Store.
Earning pocket money with a smartphone, what sounds like a joke to many was possible with Facebook’s “Research” app. The social network paid users up to $20 a month as part of a trial around the application when they revealed their entire cell phone activity to them. This was reported by US website TechCrunch after an analysis of the app. Now, Apple has taken action; the App is thrown out of the store, but Facebook may not stop future applications for beta testing. So Apple wants to prevent Facebook for the third time violating the rules in the App Store. For Facebook, this is a problem; how will the group test apps on iOS before publishing?
Facebook app collects personal information
In the meantime, it is known that the social network with the requested permissions had access to conversations in chat services, sent photos, and videos, addresses of web sites visited, as well as data from location applications. In addition, Facebook invited some of the participants to submit a list of their Amazon orders. The study is open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 35 – both adults and minors. Facebook put this in perspective and stated that only 5 percent of all participating persons are minors. Moreover, in all cases, both the adolescents and their parents had consented to participate in the study.
Facebook Research App distributed via beta portals
Another problem according to TechCrunch, it had not been immediately apparent that Facebook is behind the application. The social network spread the app through various platforms such as Applause, BetaBound, and uTest – which actually deliver beta versions to volunteer testers. Facebook contradicts these allegations: “There was nothing ‘secret’ about it; the name was literally ‘Facebook Research App,’ “a spokesperson explained. In addition, the group did not spy on the users, because the app informed them and paid them too.
Also interesting is that Facebook played the app on smartphones by employees to spread them. According to IT security expert John Sony, this practice violates Apple’s app store rules. Apple has now confirmed that the company threw the Facebook Research app out of its store. In addition, they have deprived Facebook of the certificates for deployment and installation of the app to protect the privacy of users.
Facebook reacts – and is criticized
After the announcement of the Tech Crunch report, Facebook immediately ended the study. This happened officially only in the case of the iOS app. Uncertain is the future of the “Research” app on Google’s mobile operating system Android. Outsiders are particularly critical of the recent announcement of the Facebook Research App, also as Facebook recently added one upset to the next. “It’s as if Facebook just does not care that its image, which is now at the very bottom. They are apparently worried solely about their website’s growth and unfortunately, these things do not seem to have hurt their growth.
It’s not Apple’s first offense on Apple’s platform. The social network previously ran the Onavo app, which advertised it as a secure VPN tunnel connection. At the same time, however, the app informed Facebook about which other online services were popular with users. Apple tightened data access rules for apps and banned Onavo.
Google runs a similar app called Opinion Rewards. Unlike Facebook, however, the company details what data it collects – and lets users run app monitoring on demand for a certain amount of time. Nevertheless, because the principle of “Opinion Rewards” is too similar to that of “Facebook Research,” Apple has blocked the Google App in its store.