Facebook accused of paying teens to spy on their phones

Facebook in trouble after 'paying teens to install spy app on their phones'

The tech blog TechCrunch reported late Tuesday that Facebook paid users about $20 USA ($26) a month to use the Facebook Research app.

Facebook is under more scrutiny after a report that it paid teens for access to data on their phones.

This isn't the first time Facebook has bee caught abusing iOS enterprise certs; Apple previously booted the firm's data-slurping Onavo VPN app from the App Store for violating violated Cupertino's strict privacy rules.

Yes, this is for real, Facebook says, but it was so not secret. And, the company said, less than 5 percent of participants "in this market research program were teens".

That's had knock-on effects for Facebook, which also used the program legitimately to test apps with employees.

"It wasn´t ´spying´ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate", the Facebook statement said.

Facebook confirmed the research program's existence to TechCrunch. "All of them with signed parental consent forms". The VPN was distributed through beta testing service brokers Applause, BetaBound and uTest to disguise Facebook's participation.

As the Wall Street Journal had reported in 2017, Facebook had used the Onavo-supplied data to track its competition and scope out new product categories.

It was through Onavo that Facebook first learned how WhatsApp was sending nearly twice as many messages as their messenger. The move doesn't impact distribution for consumers via the App Store, but it could mean delays to new versions including the main Facebook app.

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On the other hand, this revelation and other privacy scandals before it did not have an adverse effect on the number of users the platform musters or its financial performance.

Google allows users to download its Screenwise Meter app in return for points, which add up to redeemable electronic gift cards.

Sure, Apple banned Onavo, but that didn't cure Facebook's data thirst.

As mentioned before, Facebook employees' day-to-day work has been made more hard by the certificate revocation. The effort was dubbed "Project Atlas" sometime a year ago. It had yet another similar program called "Project Kodiak". Asked about it by The Associated Press, Google said it had disabled the app on Apple devices and apologized for its "mistake".

"We can't aspire for good press while continuing to not play by the rules", another employee wrote in an internal discussion on the company's Workplace app.

"If Apple considers this a violation of its Enterprise Certificate policy, it could shut down Screenwise's ability to run on iOS", TechCrunch noted.

Similar to Facebook's now-defunct Facebook Research app, Google's Screenwise Meter app uses an Enterprise Certificate to bypass the App Store.

Apple told AFP on Wednesday that it revoked software certificates letting Facebook take part in its Enterprise Developer Program to work in-house on applications for the Cupertino-based company´s devices. Since this research is aimed at helping Facebook understand how people use their mobile devices, we've provided extensive information about the type of data we collect and how they can participate.

Apple pulled Google and Facebook's certificates because both companies were found to be distributing shady apps that gathered all of users' data.

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