Facebook paid users to install a VPN that spies on them

Facebook pays users to install a VPN that collects their data

"Given the tech backlash in general and the intense focus on Facebook's privacy policies, this is most unfortunate".

Currently, Facebook tells TechCrunch that it is going to roll up the research program from the iOS devices.

A detailed TechCrunch report highlights that Facebook has been running a "research" program where it asks users to install its "Facebook Research" VPN app on their device.

Facebook also disputed that the program is specifically targeted at teens - but at least some of the attempts to enlist users are specifically aimed at people between 13 and 17, and feature a "parental consent agreement" that is nothing but a tick-box, according to TechCrunch.

If minors try to sign-up, they're asked to get their parents' permission with a form that reveal's Facebook's involvement and says "There are no known risks associated with the project, however you acknowledge that the inherent nature of the project involves the tracking of personal information via your child's use of apps".

As TechCrunch reports, in 2016 Facebook started offering to pay users aged between 13 and 35 as much as $20 per month plus referral fees to install an app.

The application installs a certificate that allows it to acquire root permissions, then Facebook Research will start collecting data on private messages, web searches, emails and even screenshots of Amazon's order history.

Google, like Facebook, may have violated Apple's policies with an app that collects user data.

Apple ejected Facebook from the business app program, saying in a statement on Wednesday the program was "solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization". Google doesn't seem to be anxious that Apple will find it out.

The report goes on to explain that the Google app, called Screenwise (but since rebranded as part of the Google Opinion Rewards program), was launched in 2012 and let users earn gift cards in exchange for sideloading the VPN app that will let Google monitor their traffic and data. Because Android is less tightly controlled, users can sideload apps, installing them from sources other than Google's official Play store. Similar to the Facebook Research app, Google's Screenwise Meter has been using Apple's Enterprise Certificate, which is meant for distributing employee-only apps, to circumvent the App Store and tap into a wealthy reserve of user data. Last year, Facebook was hammered for failing to keep the personal information of its more than 2 billion users safe after news emerged that Cambridge Analytica, a United Kingdom consultancy, had acquired data without users' knowledge.

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 Facebook CEO was by Cook's remarks that he reportedly ordered Facebook staff to switch over from iPhones to Android phones. This effectively bans Facebook's Research app, which was first uncovered by on Tuesday. So, what type of data was Facebook harvesting?

Facebook also disputed that the app is a copy-and-pasted version of the banned Onavo app, something that appears to be contradicted by evidence shared by Strafach.

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