Facebook paid users to track smartphone use

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose Mc Enery Convention Center in San Jose California

When the BBC visited one of the app's sign-up pages, it stated that Facebook would use the information to improve its services, and that there are "some instances" when the data is collected "even where the app uses encryption, or from within secure browser sessions".

"Key facts about this market research program are being ignored", a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. But BuzzFeed News reporter Ryan Mac tried signing up after the TechCrunch report was published, and found very few disclosures to participants that Facebook was behind it. Facebook added that less than 5 percent of the users who participated in the research were teens, who signed parental consent forms. According to Guardian Mobile Firewall security expert Will Stafach, this included private messages and chats from apps, internet searches, emails, web browsing activity, and even location data, all of which was sent back to Facebook. That means employees can't access lunch menus, use early versions of Facebook apps, including Instagram and Messenger, or reportedly catch a bus to and from work.

Facebook has been paying young users as young as 13 years old up to $20 a month to install an app called Facebook Research, TechCrunch reported.

The Silicon Valley social networking giant has been paying teens and adults up to $20 a month to spy on their phones, their data, and the apps they use, according to a new report from TechCrunch -raising fresh concerns over the company's approach to user privacy.

The revelation of the research app demonstrates the lengths Facebook is willing to go to maintain a competitive edge.

The spokesperson also made it clear that the program was not in violation of any of Apple's App Store policies, though there is evidence pointing to the actions being contradictory to Apple's Enterprise Certificate Policy. As TechCrunch reports, the company's forays into data-monitoring give the company insights into competitors such as TikTok and Snapchat. Because Android is less tightly controlled, users can sideload apps, installing them from sources other than Google's official Play store.

"Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple", Apple said.

The Screenwise Meter app, launched in 2012, had a similar installation process to the Facebook Research app that's now been shut down.

This move is likely to also affect Facebook's ability to test its apps internally before publishing them on Apple's App Store.

The incidents with the Facebook Research app and Google's Screenwise Meter app illuminate just how important that data is to the companies and come at a time when lawmakers, critics and the public are already distrustful of how they obtain and use that data. The app is available online as "Facebook VPN".

"Our community and business continue to grow", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

How Facebook Justifies This Data Harvesting Sham?

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about Google's Screenwise Meter app.

Facebook distributed the app to consumers through Apple's "Enterprise Developer Program".

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