Facebook bribing teenagers to spy on them


This 29 January 2019 video says about itself:

Facebook paying $20/month to install VPN to collect and gain access data from your phone.

“The VPN is reportedly similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that was pulled from the Apple App Store last year for privacy violations.

However, Facebook calls on iOS users to side-load the Facebook Research app by declaring the social network to be a trusted developer.”

Furthermore, a representative for security app Guardian Mobile Firewall told the outlet Facebook could also collect private messages in social media apps, messages and media from chat apps, and your location.

From Techcrunch in the USA today:

Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them

Josh Constine

Desperate for data on its competitors, Facebook has been secretly paying people to install a “Facebook Research” VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user’s phone and web activity, similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect app that Apple banned in June and that was removed in August. Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access to network traffic in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity, a TechCrunch investigation confirms. Facebook admitted to TechCrunch it was running the Research program to gather data on usage habits.

Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android “Facebook Research” app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook’s involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as “Project Atlas” — a fitting name for Facebook’s effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe. …

We asked Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert Will Strafach to dig into the Facebook Research app, and he told us that “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 in 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.” It’s unclear exactly what data Facebook is concerned with, but it gets nearly limitless access to a user’s device once they install the app.

The strategy shows how far Facebook is willing to go and how much it’s willing to pay to protect its dominance — even at the risk of breaking the rules of Apple’s iOS platform on which it depends. Apple may have asked Facebook to discontinue distributing its Research app. A more stringent punishment would be to revoke Facebook’s permission to offer employee-only apps. The situation could further chill relations between the tech giants. …

“The fairly technical sounding ‘install our Root Certificate’ step is appalling,” Strafach tells us. “This hands Facebook continuous access to the most sensitive data about you, and most users are going to be unable to reasonably consent to this regardless of any agreement they sign, because there is no good way to articulate just how much power is handed to Facebook when you do this.” …

Ads … for the program run by uTest on Instagram and Snapchat sought teens 13-17 years old for a “paid social media research study.” … For kids short on cash, the payments could coerce them to sell their privacy to Facebook. …

Meanwhile, the BetaBound sign-up page with a URL ending in “Atlas” explains that “For $20 per month (via e-gift cards), you will install an app on your phone and let it run in the background.” It also offers $20 per friend you refer. That site also doesn’t initially mention Facebook, but the instruction manual for installing Facebook Research reveals the company’s involvement. …

Facebook did not publicly promote the Research VPN itself and used intermediaries that often didn’t disclose Facebook’s involvement until users had begun the signup process. While users were given clear instructions and warnings, the program never stresses nor mentions the full extent of the data Facebook can collect through the VPN. …

Facebook is particularly interested in what teens do on their phones as the demographic has increasingly abandoned the social network in favor of Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook’s acquisition Instagram. Insights into how popular with teens is Chinese video music app TikTok and meme sharing led Facebook to launch a clone called Lasso and begin developing a meme-browsing feature called LOL, TechCrunch first reported. But Facebook’s desire for data about teens riles critics at a time when the company has been battered in the press.

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6 thoughts on “Facebook bribing teenagers to spy on them

  1. Pingback: Google violating privacy like Facebook | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Facebook censorship of European elections | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Facebook censorship getting worse again | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Facebook treats its censorship workers like shit | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  5. Pingback: Facebook ‘s Zuckerberg wants more internet censorship | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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