Facebook Research App data scandal


Facebook which is trying hard to shrug off its presence from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal is reportedly caught up in the latest which is about a paid ‘Research App’.

From the past three years i.e. from 2016, the Mark Zuckerberg Company has been testing an app meant for teens and young adults (aged 13 to 35).

But in the background security researchers from TechCrunch have found that Facebook is offering a payback of $20 per month plus referral fees to those who are ready to sell their privacy. They argue that the paid app has unconfined access to all the data of the device on which it is operating.

The perspective of the social media on this issue is that the app can be used as a VPN by its users who in-turn gets paid for doing so.

But in reality, the app has been snooping by accessing the web activity and the app activity on the phones on which it is installed.

As Facebook is rewarding users to download the ‘research app’ it is getting root access to the network traffic in what may be a clear cut violation of data privacy. For example, the Zuckerberg led company has been caught in one instance demanding the ‘Research App’ users to screenshot their Amazon order history’s page.

TechCrunch has learned that the app is being circulated through beta testing services Applause, Betabound, and uTest which are being promoted as testing programs related to ‘Project Atlas’- a Facebook’s 2016’s retail effort to map new trends and rivals around the world.

Since the practice is taking place on Apple’s iOS platforms it has already strained the relationship between the two tech giants, with Apple CEO Tim Cook already expressing concerns about Facebook’s ‘oppressive’ data collection methods and declaring the end of ‘Facebook’s Research App’ operations on iOS platforms from Dec’19.

Google is yet to comment on this issue!

Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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