Facebook busted for paying teens to spy on their phones
Should we even be surprised at this point?
MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA — A TechCrunch investigation has revealed that Facebook has been paying teens and other users for access to private data.
The social network has reportedly been paying users aged 13 to 35 $20 a month in gift cards to install the 'Facebook Research' app, a VPN that monitors web and app activity and sends it back for market research.
The app requires Root Certificate access, allowing 'nearly limitless access to a user's device.' We're talking private messages, emails, web searches, browsing activity — the whole gamut.
It's even asked users to take a screenshot of their Amazon order history.
The app, which is also referred to as Project Atlas, works similar to Onavo Protect, another Facebook VPN that was banned by Apple last year for violating its data collection policies.
Not surprisingly, Project Atlas was also violating those same policies, and has been blocked on Apple's iOS platform.
But Facebook's not the only one secretly peddling a data collector. Google's Screenwise Meter app bears a striking resemblance to Facebook Research.
Screenwise Meter invites users aged 18 and up to participate, though teens as young as 13 can join if they're part of a family group.
Like Facebook Research, the iOS version uses Apple's enterprise developer program, which allows apps with special privileges to be distributed but only to the company's employees, according to The Verge.
Google's app has since been disabled on iOS. A spokesperson has also come out to apologize and Screenwise Meter shouldn't have operated on the enterprise developer program.
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