Facebook is shutting down an app that paid $20 a month to people aged between 13 and 35 for allowing it to collect data on their iPhones, which according to Apple breached its privacy policies.
The “ Facebook Research” app enabled the social network to monitor a user’s web and phone activity, including how they used other apps, according to an article published on Tuesday’s TechCrunch. The news comes six months after Facebook pulled another security app, Onavo protect, from Apple’s App store, after Apple decided to bar apps that monitored which other apps were installed on a phone. Onavo had allowed Facebook to collect this type of information raising concerns that the tech giant was monitoring rivals’ success and gaining a competitive advantage. The app also helped the social network identify potential targets for acquisition.
Apple said the Research app violated its rules because it was being offered through a policy that only allows companies to offer tester apps to their employees. Instead Facebook was distributing “a data-collecting app to consumers, which is clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificate to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revokes, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data” the company said.
A Facebook spokesperson said “Despite early reports there was nothing secret about this: it was literally called the Facebook Research App and 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.”
Tim Cook, Apple CEO said there should be regulation that limited the use of customer data, and that companies such as Facebook used customers as a product to sell to advertisers. By contract Apple’s business model was centred on selling products to customers he said.