Facebook is paying some kids to access their data

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The program, which used an Apple service intended for enterprises deploying apps for internal use only, ended on iOS when Apple disabled Facebook's access to that service.

According to TechCrunch, which first reported the existence of Facebook Research, the company paid users aged 13 to 35 a monthly fee, of up to $20, to install the app on iOS and Android.

As Techcunch reports, Screenwise Meter is now part of Google's Cross Media Panel and Google Opinion Rewards programmes, which also includes traffic and data collection and analysis on PCs, TVs, and even through special Google-supplied routers.

Apple has yet to publicly offer a comment on the report and say whether it will impose any meaningful sanctions on Facebook.

"We designed our Enterprise Developer Program exclusively for the internal distribution of apps within an organization, Apple said".

Facebook was found to be using a voluntarily installed virtual private network (VPN) to route all data from participants' devices through its own servers - despite the fact that Apple had removed a previous Facebook app that did the same thing, Onavo, from the iOS App Store over privacy violations. 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.

However, Facebook isn't the only company guilty of violating Apple's Developer Enterprise Program.

Despite being warned, Facebook made a decision to circumvent the App Store to distribute the "Project Atlas" research app (as first reported by TechCrunch) by taking advantage of Apple's Developer Enterprise Program which allows business partners to test and distribute apps to their own employees without any review from Apple.

Facebook also disputed that the app is a copy-and-pasted version of the banned Onavo app, something that appears to be contradicted by evidence shared by Strafach. It seems as if Facebook used Apple's Enterprise system as a workaround knowing the iPhone maker wouldn't approve its app otherwise. It said that less than 5% of those who participated in the research were teens who signed parental consent forms.

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The incident, regardless of Facebook's strongly-worded response, will undoubtedly further tarnish the social media company's public image.

Since Onavo was banned on the App Store, Facebook uses an installation process that completely bypasses the App Store by using beta testing services like Applause, BetaBound, and uTest.

A Facebook spokesperson acknowledged the company is running the program to gather data on usage habits and has paid users for their participation.

"I have never seen such open and flagrant defiance of Apple's rules by an App Store developer", Guardian Mobile Firewall's security expert Will Strafach said.

By installing the software, you're giving our client permission to collect data from your phone that will help them understand how you browse the internet, and how you use the features in the apps you've installed.

On Tuesday, the company defended the research app, saying that it was up front with participants about how their data would be collected.

"We don't share this information with others and people can stop participating at any time", the spokesperson added.

In a statement to Fast Company, Apple said that Facebook was in "clear breach of their agreement".