Facebook employees are experiencing turbulent times as Apple decides to revoke the social media giant’s developer certificates. This is due to a TechCrunch report that said Facebook paid 20$/month to users including teens to install the ‘Facebook research app” on their devices which allowed them to track their mobile and web browsing activities.
Following the revoke, Facebook employees will not be able to access early versions of Facebook apps such as Instagram and Messenger, and many other activities such as food ordering, locating an area on the map and much more.
Yesterday, Apple announced that they have shut down the Facebook research app for iOS. According to Apple, “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple”.
The company further said, “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”
Per Mashable report, “Facebook employees argued that Apple’s move was merely an attempt to distract from an embarrassing FaceTime bug that went public earlier in the week.” An employee commented, “Anything to take the heat off the FaceTime security breach.” Facebook also said that it’s “working closely with Apple to reinstate our most critical internal apps immediately.”
Mark Zuckerberg has also received a stern letter from Senator Mark Warner including a list of questions about the company’s data gathering practices, post the TechCrunch report went viral.
In a statement, he mentioned, “It is inherently manipulative to offer teens money in exchange for their personal information when younger users don’t have a clear understanding of how much data they’re handing over and how sensitive it is.”
Google disabled its iOS app too
Similar to Facebook, Google too distributed a private app, Screenwise Meter, to monitor how people use their iPhones and rewarded the users with Google’s Opinion Rewards program gift cards in exchange for collecting information on their internet usage. However, yesterday, Google announced that it has disabled the iOS app.
Google’s Screenwise Meter app has been a part of a program that’s been around since 2012. It first started tracking household web access through a Chrome extension and a special Google-provided tracking router. The app is open to anyone above 18 but allows users aged 13 and above to join the program if they’re in the same household. Facebook’s tracking app, on the other hand, targeted people between the ages of 13 and 25.
A Google spokesperson told The Verge, “The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been. We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”
To know more about this news, head over to The Verge.
Facebook researchers show random methods without any training can outperform modern sentence embeddings models for sentence classification
Stanford experiment results on how deactivating Facebook affects social welfare measures
Facebook pays users $20/month to install a ‘Facebook Research’ VPN that spies on their phone and web activities, TechCrunch reports