Facebook Has Been Paying Teens to Spy on Them Through VPN

A portrait of Facebook found Mark Zuckerberg is seen on an iPhone in this

A portrait of Facebook found Mark Zuckerberg is seen on an iPhone in this

At the end of the day, it's clear that even after Apple's warnings and the ban of the Onavo app, Facebook has continued to find ways to spy on users and gather information about competitors by all means possible.

According to TechCrunch, the Menlo Park, Calif. company - which has taken heat for a range of privacy-related scandals, breaches and snafus over the previous year - has been paying teenagers and adults up to $20 per month to install a "Facebook Research" app on their Apple or Android phones. Users are only informed that the app is called "Facebook Research" until just before they install the program. The company used the Enterprise Developer Program to distribute early versions of its apps to developers and employees, and it's the main way the company tested new features.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Variety that this also impacted internal apps used by the company's workforce, and multiple reports indicated Wednesday morning that the company was caught off-guard.

Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use. Acquired by Facebook in 2013, the market research service offers users a free VPN in exchange for their mobile traffic and information relating to their use of websites, apps, and data.

Facebook said in a statement Wednesday that the nature of the data collecting app was not secret.

Facebook defended its programme, saying it was doing not wrong and that only a small percentage of people was underage. Now, Apple is hitting back at the company for abusing their policies and making sure their stance on the discovery is known. Facebook posted revenue exceeding $16.9 billion, and the company said it had 1.2 billion daily active users.

Facebook shares soared almost nine percent in after-hours trading, after closing up 4 percent during the regular session.

According to BBC reporter Dave Lee, when he asked Facebook to clarify how parental consent was provided, Facebook merely said: "the vendors handled it". For most of us, it's the facilitator of our social lives.




Facebook did not immediately respond to further requests for comment.

Facebook has been the target of much criticism over the way it handles user data, especially after it was revealed that the data of 87 million users had been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

In Facebook's case, it knowingly broke those rules by encouraging third parties - including children - to download the app and use it. In the meantime, Cook has called on Congress to adopt sweeping new limits on how companies collect and monetize consumers' personal information.

Yesterday, TechCrunch first reported that Facebook is now paying users in the USA for sharing their phone and web activity for research purposes. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

The app would normally be in violation of Apple's own privacy policy for apps.

That strategy didn't go over well with Apple, which pulled the plug on Facebook's access to the program Tuesday night. "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". This tool allows the company to analyse nearly everything the person then does on their phone.

That's how Facebook sneaked through Apple's privacy defenses.

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