For that trove of personal data, Facebook paid an unknown number of users aged between 13 and 35 up to $20 a month in e-gifts.
Anyone who digs into the FAQ would see that the research app tracks app and internet usage, but the marketing firms didn't mention Facebook's involvement.
The company has been using a Facebook Research app it developed for iOS and Android to pretty much spy on everything a participating user does on their smartphone.
"Like many companies, we invite people to participate in research that helps us identify things we can be doing better", a Facebook spokesperson said. "All of them with signed parental consent forms".
Previously, Apple said that Facebook's app violated its policies by using membership in Apple's Enterprise Developer Program "to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple".
Speciically, Facebook's customers - in this case, the app users - should, according to the policy, not have access to the app at all as its use is meant for employees only "and only in conjunction with Your Internal Use Applications for the objective of developing and testing".
Apple has revoked the certificate that enables Facebook to distribute the app via Apple's Enterprise Certificate Program, according to. Under the hood, the app is actually a VPN that gains root access to a device and then is able to decrypt and analyze all traffic.
Without the certificate, Facebook's internal apps no longer work on Apple's iOS. In one major data breach disclosed previous year, Cambridge Analytica obtained information on millions of Facebook users through a third-party app. But like Facebook's app, Google's Screenwise Meter could be downloaded outside of the App Store, via a Google download link.
Some lawmakers sharply rebuked Facebook on Wednesday in response to the reports about its data-tracking app. "Wiretapping teens is not research, and it should never be permissible", Democratic Sen.
The report suggested it may have been in violation of Apple's policies around data privacy and usage. In a memo to employees obtained by Business Insider, Facebook said it's "working closely with Apple to reinstate our most critical internal apps immediately". It's unclear if Apple will rescind the ban, but I'd guess it will back off after Facebook twists in the wind for a while. Facebook posted revenue exceeding $16.9 billion, and the company said it had 1.2 billion daily active users. But the market research program appears to have been only active on Android from 2016 to 2018, with the iOS version launching after Onavo was pulled.
The latest privacy-related issue at Facebook comes on the same day the company will report its quarterly earnings.