Facebook will close its controversial market research application for iOS


Facebook will close a controversial market research program that violated Apple's developer guidelines in order to collect user data from volunteer phones. The company said late Wednesday that Facebook's research application, which offers volunteers between 13 and 35 monthly gift cards of $ 20 in exchange for almost total access to data on their phones, would no longer be available on iOS . Apparently, it will remain available to Android users.

TechCrunch said Tuesday that the company has paid gift cards to people between 13 and 35 in exchange for the installation of an application called Facebook Research on iOS and Android. The application monitors the phone and web activity and sends it back to Facebook for market research purposes.

Facebook collected similar data previously using Onavo Protect, a VPN service that it acquired in 2013. The company used the data to identify promising competitors and then purchase or clone them. Facebook removed the app from the App Store last summer after Apple complained that it violated the App Store's guidelines on data collection.

The search appliance requires users to install a custom root certificate, giving Facebook the ability to view private messages, emails, Web searches, and users' browsing activity. This is an apparent violation of Apple's system-level functionality, which aims to give employers access to employees' work devices. The policy prohibits developers from installing certificates on clients' phones.

In a statement, Facebook objected to parts of TechCrunchReport of

"The key facts about this market research program are being ignored," the company said. "Despite the first reports, there was nothing secret – about this; was literally called the Facebook Research App. It was not "spying" because all the people who signed up to participate went through a clear process of integration asking for permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5% of the people who opted to participate in this market research program were adolescents. All of them with signed parental consent forms. "

The company also denied that Facebook Research intended to replace Onavo, although it did not respond to evidence that the applications shared similar code.


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