Facebook will end a controversial market research program that violates Apple’s developer guidelines to collect user data from volunteer phones. On Wednesday evening, the company said that the Facebook research app, which offers volunteers between the ages of 13 and 35 monthly gift cards of $ 20 in exchange for almost full access to the data on their phones, will no longer be available on iOS. Apparently, it will still be available for Android users.
Techcrunch On Tuesday, it was reported that the company pays gift cards to people aged 13 to 35 in exchange for installing an application called Facebook Research on iOS and Android. The app tracks their phone and web activity and sends them back to Facebook for market research.
Facebook previously collected similar data using Onavo Protect, a VPN service that was acquired in 2013. The company used this data to identify new competitors, and then to acquire or clone them. Facebook removed the app from the App Store last summer after Apple complained that it violated the App Store data collection rules.
The Research application requires users to install their own root certificate, giving Facebook the ability to view users' personal messages, emails, Internet searches, and browsing activity. This is a clear violation of Apple’s system-level functionality, which is designed to provide employers with access to employee work devices. The policy prohibits developers from installing certificates on client phones.
In his statement, Facebook objected to the part TechcrunchReport.
“The key facts about this program are ignored,” the company said. “Despite early reports, there was nothing“ secret ”about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. This was not “espionage”, as all the people who signed up to participate, went through a clear procedure for obtaining permission to participate in the program. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who decided to participate in this market research program were teenagers. They are all with signed parental consent forms. ”
The company also denied that Facebook Research was intended to replace Onavo, although it did not respond to evidence that applications share similar code.