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In the latest revelation of privacy concerns about Silicon Valley Technology Titans, reports have shown that Facebook and Google offer gift cards for adults and adolescents to install apps that allow businesses to collect data about their smartphones.
TechCrunch announced on Tuesday that Facebook has paid users – some young people under 13 – up to $ 20 a month since 2016 to install Facebook Research. The program could give Facebook access to private messages, photos, videos, emails, web searches, and browsing activities by reporting a technology news site.
"Facebook hides the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and gives it root access to network traffic, which may be a violation of Apple's policy so that the social network can decrypt and analyze its phone activity," TechCrunch said.
Apple has banned Facebook Research.
Facebook is not the only technology company that collects data using such applications. On Wednesday, Google said it would remove a similar app called Screenwise Meter.
This is not the first time Facebook has been accused of getting very long data to get user data. In 2013, it bought Onavo and possibly used the Onavo app for more information on WhatsApp, a competing messaging platform that Facebook finally bought for $ 19 billion.
The Facebook Research app is similar to the Onavo app that Apple banned last summer.
"To use it this way and with your name, it's just amazing for me. I don't understand what they thought they were doing or how they thought they could go with it," Did Strafach, a mobile safety researcher who studied TechCrunch, told NPR.
In a statement TechCrunch, Facebook said the app "was not" spying "because all the people who signed up to participate went through a clear boarding process, asking for their permission and were paid to participate." And the company said that less than 5 percent of the participants in this market research program were teenagers. All with signed parental consent forms. "
Legislators poll Facebook on the app.
"I am concerned that users were not properly informed about the extent of Facebook data collection and the commercial purposes of collecting this data," Sen wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Mark Warners, D-Va. "Facebook's obvious lack of complete transparency with users – especially in terms of" research "efforts I have been disappointed."
And Sens Josh Hawley, R-Mo. wrote on twitter: "Wait a minute. Facebook PAID for teenagers to install a surveillance device on their phones without notifying them that it gave Facebook the power to spy on them? Some kids as young as 13. Are you serious?"
Wait a minute. Facebook PAID teenagers to set up a surveillance device on their phones without specifying that it gave Facebook the power to spy on them? Some children as young as 13. Are you serious? https://t.co/87MGCk5BeM
– Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 30, 2019
In a statement by TechCrunch, Google said its Screenwise Meter app should not have been running under the Apple developer company program – it was a mistake and we apologize. We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and has always been voluntary and always voluntary we have begun with users how we use our data in this app, we do not have access to encrypted data in apps and devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time. "
Katie Moussura of Luta Security says she understands why younger users agree to give them so much access to their private lives.
"Some of these children have grown almost without privacy," she says. "Their photos, if their common parents, their families before they could even agree to it. So I think about them, probably it seems that nothing has remained hidden."