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Study From Facebook: An App that Pays Adults for Data

by Steve Longfields

The shut was imminent as heart-wrenching details were in the public domain, all thanks to TechCrunch—Facebook paying teenagers for root access to their phones, all in a bid to gain market data on competitors. Perhaps you have forgotten so soon, it’s a reminder of went down earlier this year. A serious privacy breach you might want to call it.

The social media giant is at it again! Another Facebook research—Study from Facebook—is upon us. But before you go hard on them, this program will be transparency and people will be fairly compensated—at least that is what we heard. And what is the goal this time? To know other competing apps Facebook should go for or better still, copy from.

And Study App Surfaced

 Study from Facebook app for Android user is the latest Facebook research program. The app is expected to recruit adults 18+ in U.S and India that are willing to sign up so Facebook can extract data from these individuals and pay them monthly.

Facebook will warn these participants about specific actions—collecting apps on their phones, know how much time spent using those apps, as well as the device, country and also network type, etc.

With the emerge of yet another research app, the terms are clear this time—never to snoop on user ID, password or content of the participants, as well as videos, photos, or messages. Other information they purportedly release to the public was that they would not sell participants’ info to a third party, use it for ads purposes or add to their account, etc. What, however, they didn’t say was how much participants will get.

There is no doubt that Study from Facebook will provide the road map for Facebook to shape its product. Here are a few things the research app will likely do:

  • If the app discovers people are screensharing social network Squad, Facebook will probably create it screensharing feature
  • If video chat app Houseparty is losing relevant, it may likely ignore cloning it functionality
  • If Snapchat Discover mobile TV show is gaining more users, Facebook may increase its teen’s marketing

The Unknown Data theft

From investigation in January, a revelation has it that Facebook was secretly operating a research program known as Atlas, paying users between the ages of 13-35 up to $20 every month in gift cards for root access to their phones. They claimed it was to collect data and use it for competitive analysis.

In addition to that, web browsing activity was not exempted, including encrypted data. Users installed a VPN which routed all available data via Facebook.

Among many of the abuses via the research app was Apple’s enterprise certificate program, which was for distributing internal use-only apps to employees without the consent of the company. According to Facebook, they obeyed Apple’s rules, but in a swift reaction, Apple kicked out the research app. This action temporarily shattered Facebook internal builds when it comes to public apps, including lunch menu apps and shuttle times.

At the end of it all, Facebook had no choice than to shut down its research program and also Onavo Protect app back in February.

Far different from Facebook Research program or Onavo, signing up is at free-will for the Study. The recruitment will be through Facebook ads that will appear on its app and others too to adults’ that are 18 and above Facebook users—even non-users in the United States and India. The program will extend to other countries over time.

How Facebook Study Work

Upon clicking the ad, Users will redirect to Facebook’s research operation partner Applause’s website, which at this point identifies the social giant involvement, unlike the Facebook Research, which never made that fact available to users until they sign up. On this site, users will get information regarding the Study app opt-in process, the data they’ll let go for compensation—and they can leave any time they choose.

Some background checks will come to play to verify certain information—Facebook will confirm their age, comparing it with their profile on Facebook to ensure it is accurate—and the user must have a Paypal account.

Worry that they may lose touch with the next generation, Facebook decided to leverage its huge wallet—and collect data using its app—to grab an edge on the competition rather than engage in a guessing adventure that could lead nowhere. Whether it is a smart move or not, the coming years will speak.

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