Facebook's Study program pays for information about the apps you use

Ceria Alfonso
Junio 12, 2019

It wasn't totally clear, for example, that all the teens and adults involved in Facebook's study were completely aware of what degree of privacy they were giving up by letting Facebook have access to their data.

After coming under fire earlier this year for quietly paying users between the ages of 13 and 35 up to $20 a month in most cases for permission to install a "Facebook Research" VPN on their phones, Facebook found itself having to defend what sounded from the outside like an extremely sketchy practice.

Facebook got into hot water earlier this year for running a program that allowed minors to hand over their phone data in exchange or compensation. That app, too, has been shut down. The company outlined how they intend to sign up participants, saying they'll make the opportunity available through advertisements and invite whoever clicks on them, registers and ultimately qualifies, to download Study. The company also said it wouldn't sell user information to third parties or use it to target ads.

Facebooks appears to be acting in a more upfront manner this time, said Lance Cottrell, chief scientist for the cybersecurity firm Ntrepid.

"Market research helps companies build better products for people".

The rollout of the app comes almost four months after Facebook faced backlash over paying users of a different app it had created that tracked their app use, private messages, and locations.

Facebook said it is looking to approach marketing research in "a responsible way" and that "what people expect when they sign up to participate in market research has changed".

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"It's a lot of competitive intelligence, but a little less spying on the users", he said.

The company previously rolled out two similar apps but both were shut down after drawing criticism for infringing on privacy, and one was cited for violating Apple's App Store terms of agreement, according to The Associated Press.

But some privacy experts are concerned users will still not know exactly what information they are sending. Study will report back to Facebook about the apps that users have on their phones; how much time they spend on those apps; what they do on them, the country they live in, and the type of device they use.

As for why Facebook wants this data, the company says it'll use the info to improve its products.

However, Facebook said it could share the fact that a user is participating in the program with "authorized partners" and that it also could share aggregate data with third parties.

What information is Facebook collecting?

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