Facebook can’t help itself from spying on its users

Facebook can’t help itself from spying on its users

Apple told the publication that the company was aware of the issue, and after the report was published, Facebook told the BBC that the program would end for iOS users, who were offered the app directly to circumvent Apple's privacy requirements.

It's important to point out that even though Facebook created the app and benefited from the data being collected, the social network masked its involvement.

An Apple spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Facebook said Project Atlas doesn't violate Apple's Enterprise Certificate policy, but the certificate program is primarily created to allow employers root access to employees phones. Hot on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica scandal came the news that Facebook's Onavo Protect VPN app was collecting user data, something that has been against Apple's guidelines since past year.

Facebook has reportedly been paying children as young as 13 to install a VPN and give the social network full access to their phone data. Facebook users who make a comfortable wage are unlikely to see that deal as worth the trade-off.

When Apple banned its Onavo VPN app from its App Store last summer, Facebook took repackaged the app, named it "Facebook Research" and offered it for download through three app beta testing services, TechCrunch has discovered.

"It wasn´t ´spying´ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate", the Facebook statement said.

According to a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook claimed there was nothing secret about the effort and that it obtained parental consent for teens where required.

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The incident, regardless of Facebook's strongly-worded response, will undoubtedly further tarnish the social media company's public image.

The VPN-based app is similar to one Facebook used to offer called Onavo Protect, which also logged and forward user activity to Facebook, but that app was specifically banned by Apple past year over privacy concerns.

Facebook has confirmed that it is running the research program to collect user data to know how people use their phone and other services. Asked about it by The Associated Press, Google said it had disabled the app on Apple devices and apologized for its "mistake". It is not known, however, what information Facebook decides to keep, or how this data is used.

By installing the software, you're giving our client permission to collect data from your phone that will help them understand how you browse the internet, and how you use the features in the apps you've installed.

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

According to Alex Heath, none of Facebook's internal iOS apps/betas - used by thousands of Facebook employees - are working on iOS devices right now because Apple revoked the company's certificate.

But it also raises serious questions about how Facebook continues to approach and value sensitive user data, as the company attempts to recover from successive privacy scandals throughout 2018 and other, broader crises.

Apple has revoked Facebook's iOS developer certificate. The story was first reported Tuesday by TechCrunch.