Facebook paid some users up to $20 a month to get full access of their private data
Facebook acquired access to users’ private messages, search history, and even screenshots of pages of what they ordered from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon.
Facebook paid some of its users to get full access to their phone activity as part of a research project launched in 2016, reported TechCrunch. The social networking giant paid up to $20 (₹1,400 approximately) per month to these users, aged between 13 and 25.
Apart from phone and web activities, Facebook acquired access to users' private messages, search history, and even screenshots of pages from what they ordered from e-commerce platforms such as Amazon. Users were asked to install a "Facebook Research" application on their devices.
TechCrunch added that the app was run by beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest which were aimed at hiding Facebook's involvement in the programme. These service providers even hid a few critical details that users would be giving access to Facebook.
Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that it was indeed running such programme and had no intentions to shelve it.
"Like many companies, we invite people to participate in research that helps us identify things we can be doing better. 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. We don't share this information with others and people can stop participating at any time," a Facebook spokesperson is quoted as saying.
ALSO READ: Facebook to face record fine for privacy data lapses by US regulators
Security researcher Will Strafach pointed out that Facebook's Research app had violated Apple's app store policies. He also compared the application with the company's controversial Onavo VPN app which was later banned by Apple.
FB provides claims for what data they collect, and perhaps they are true.— Will Strafach (@chronic) January 30, 2019
however, they DO NOT inform users of the massive amount of access you hand them when hitting "Trust" on their Root Certificate. I do not think users can reasonably consent without this knowledge. pic.twitter.com/ECDNk8av32
Facebook was forced to pull its Onavo Protect virtual private network application from Apple's App Store for accessing users' data outside the app. While a VPN application is supposed to help users mask their geo-location data and identity, Facebook's tracked user data from other applications on the device.
ALSO READ: Facebook says user preferential data access to third-party apps given with user permission
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