Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild will shut down its controversial “Facebook Research” app, which violated Apple’s guidelines and gained access to users’ private data, the company announced on Wednesday, following an investigation by TechCrunch.
In a statement, Facebook rejected TechCrunch’s Tuesday report, which claimed that the entire practice was secret:
“Key facts about this market research program are being ignored. Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. 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. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms”.
According to the website’s investigation, by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app, users were basically selling their privacy.
At first, the app monitors the phone of the volunteers and their web activity, and then it sends the gathered data back to Facebook for market research purposes.
“If Facebook makes full use of the level of access they are given by asking users to install the Certificate, they will have the ability to continuously collect the following types of data: private messages in social media apps, chats from instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location, tracking apps you may have installed”, Will Strafach, a security expert with Guardian Mobile Firewall, told TechCrunch.
While the company has announced that the app will no longer be available on iOS, it will apparently continue to be available for Android users.