Facebook Abandons Data-Harvesting App

Facebook Abandons Data-Harvesting App
The Facebook Research app reportedly breaches Apple’s rules for developers.

(CCM) — Facebook has decided to drop its highly controversial Facebook Research iOS app which gives the company near total access to the data on the phones of those who install it, according to a Verge report.

The app has been offered to volunteers falling into the 13 – 35 age bracket, and those that install it are awarded monthly $20 gift cards. It monitors phone and web activity, and sends data back to Facebook for market research purposes, the report says.

But the app installs a custom root certificate on users' phones, and this is prohibited by Apple. Installing such a certificate enables Facebook to see users' private messages, emails, web searches, and browsing activity, according to the report.

Facebook denied that the Research app was snooping on users. "There was nothing 'secret' about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App," the company said in a statement in the report. "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 Research app is similar to the company's Onavo Protect VPN service, which also collected user data until it was dropped from the Apple store last year for breaching the App Store's data collection guidelines.

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