Facebook Research App collected data of 187000 users most of whom were Indians

By Digit NewsDesk | Updated 15 Jun 2019
Facebook Research App collected data of 187000 users most of whom were Indians
  • Facebook Research collected data of 187,000 users
  • Almost 150,000 users were Indian.
  • Apple banned the app in January of this year

IT seems like Facebook’s data troubles refuse to go away. After the Pandora’s Box that was the Cambridge Analytica scandal was blown open, instances of data breach and privacy lapses on Facebook’s part continue to go public. Now, there is a report that a Facebook-owned app syphoned off data of 187,000 users before being pulled by Apple from the App Store.

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The app originally named Onavo was responsible for sucking up personal information of 187,000 users. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal demanded Facebook release the number of users whose data was compromised, along with how many of those users were minors. According to TechCrunch, who managed to get a look at the copy of the letter, report that according to Facebook, the Social Media giant collected information on 31,000 users from the U.S., of whom 4,300 were teenagers.

Originally released as the data sucking VPN Onavi, the app was later, rebranded as Facebook Research and released through Apple’s TestFlight program. Facebook then started paying users to download the app through the TestFlight program. TestFlight is a program no iOS which allows developers to reach out to beta testers for their apps. While up until now the process was fairly normal, where Facebook violated App Store policy was by asking users to install an Enterprise Developer Certificate and a VPN. This combination granted Facebook unrestricted access to everything done on the phone. In exchange, users would receive monetary compensation.

Apple finally banned the app from the App Store in January of this year, but Facebook continued to maintain the app on Google’s Play Store, eventually removing it a few months later. We finally know the extent of the breach in privacy enacted by the Facebook Research app.  By paying users $20/month, Facebook incentivized its users to give the company access to everything, most likely without even knowing what they were signing up for. This is just another incident in now a long list of infractions by Facebook when it comes to users’ privacy, and it is unlikely that this would be the last.

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