Facebook paid teens $20 a month for access to all phone activity; here’s how Apple responded
Jan 31, 2019
Facebook has reportedly been paying teens and young people to volunteer for total access to their phone activity, according to a new TechCrunch report.
The company reportedly paid people 13 to 35 years old $20 per month to download a Facebook Research app on iOS and Android devices, which monitors all of their phone and internet activity. The app will then send all of that information back to Facebook.
- Facebook confirmed the research program’s existence to TechCrunch.
- The social network told TechCrunch that it planned to shut down the iOS version of the app just seven hours after the report broke online.
An Apple spokesman said Wednesday that the Facebook app violated the app store’s policies and the app would be blocked from the store, according to Fox News.
- “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization,” said a spokesman. “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”
Facebook sent a statement to Fox News about the TechCrunch report.
- “There was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear onboarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate,” the Facebook spokesman said via email.
Flashback: Facebook previously collected data through Onavo Protect, which is a VPN service that it brought back in 2013, according to The Verge. Facebook used the data to gain information on potential competitors.
For example: Facebook learned about TikTok and Snapchat through data-monitoring.
However: Facebook removed that app from the App Store last year after Apple said the app violated store policies, according to The Verge.
Why it matters: Will Strafach, a security expert for Guardian Mobile Firewall, told TechCrunch that Facebook could collect many types of data, including “private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps — including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location-tracking apps you may have installed.”