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In the recent unveiling of data protection concerns about Silicon Valley's tech titans, reports have surfaced that Facebook and Google have offered gift cards for adults and teenagers to install apps that companies use to collect data can collect their smartphones.
TechCrunch said Tuesday that since 2016, Facebook users – some of whom are only 13 years old – are paying up to $ 20 a month to install an app called Facebook Research. The app could allow Facebook to access private messages, photos, videos, emails, web searches, and browsing activities, the Tech News website reported.
"Facebook expires on the App Store, rewarding teens and adults to download and give the research app root access to network traffic in a possible violation of Apple's policies, allowing the social network to decode and analyze its phone activity." TechCrunch reported.
Apple has banned the Facebook Research app.
Facebook is not the only tech company that collects data using such apps. On Wednesday, Google said it will withdraw a similar app called Screenwise Meter.
This is not the first time that Facebook is accused of making extreme efforts to gain users data. In 2013, she bought a company called Onavo and allegedly used the Onavo app to get more information about WhatsApp, a competing messaging platform that Facebook eventually bought for $ 19 billion.
The Facebook Research app is similar to Apple's banned Onavo app last summer.
"Using it like that under their own name is just unbelievable to me, I do not understand what they thought, or how they thought they could get away with it," Will Strafach, a mobile security researcher , who studied the app for TechCrunch, told NPR.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said the app was "wasn" spying, "because all the people who signed up to join one And the company said less than five percent of participants "in this market research program were teens, all with signed parental consent forms."
The legislature questions Facebook about the app.
"I have concerns that users have not been adequately informed about the extent of Facebook's data collection and the commercial purposes of this data collection," wrote Sen War Markner, D-Va., In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "Facebook's apparent lack of complete transparency towards users – especially in connection with research efforts – has frustrated me."
And Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote on Twitter : "Wait a minute. Facebook PAYS teens to install a monitor on their phones, without telling them that they are the Facebook Possibility to spy on some 'kids, who are only 13 years old. Are you serious?'
Wait a minute. Facebook PAID teens to install a monitor on their cell phones without telling them that Facebook has been authorized to spy on them? Some children are only 13 years old. https://t.co/87MGCk5BeM[19459014-JoshHawley(@HawleyMO) January 30, 2019
In a statement to TechCrunch, Google said its Screenwise Meter app should not be run under Apple's developer company program – This was a mistake and we apologize. We disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and has always been. We've communicated with users about the way we use their data in this app. No access to encrypted data in apps and devices, and users can unsubscribe at any time.
Katie Moussouris of Luta Security says she understands why younger users would grant so much access to their private lives.
"Some of these kids are She grew up with virtually no privacy, "she says." Her photos were shared by her parents, by her families before they even agreed. I think it seems to her that there is nothing to hide. "