2019 Doesn’t Seem to Be the Year that Facebook will Become Trustworthy

Facebook’s slip ups are continuing in 2019, and the stakes are even higher now that Apple is involved. Keep reading to learn about the latest thing Facebook has done.

A few weeks ago, a TechCrunch analysis found that Facebook has been tracking user data on both iOS and Android platforms using a VPN app called ‘Facebook Research’.  The ‘Facebook Research’ app is built right into the Facebook iOS app, and redirects iOS and Android users in the U.S. to a page asking them to participate in a study.

In exchange for allowing access to ‘Facebook Research’ users were offered up to $20 dollars per month so that Facebook could analyze their phone activity.

The ‘Facebook Research’ app gives the company access to private messages, emails, web browsing history, and even search history. The end goal of this research is to learn more about trends in app usage, which in turn lets Facebook scale up its already massive empire and eventually control most of the apps on your phone.

By putting the VPN app right in the Facebook iOS app itself, the company has sidestepped the feud it got into with Apple in August 2018. At that time Apple banned and removed a similar VPN tracking app called Onavo Protect, which Facebook was using to track user data since 2013.

Onavo Protect violated Apple’s data collection policies by posing as a protective encryption device for users when it was actually collecting data about users’ phone activity for company research. But even after Onavo Protect was removed, Facebook didn’t want to stop collecting phone usage data.

So the research program continued under a new name, in total disregard for Apple having banned its earlier efforts.  

Facebook has maintained that there’s nothing secret about the new ‘Facebook Research’ app and that they aren’t ‘spying’, per se, as all the people who signed up to participate gave permission.

But as many smartphone users know, we don’t always know what we’re signing up for when we click ‘allow’ on an app’s permissions wall. Although users may think they are simply participating in research, they are really allowing Facebook continuous access to some pretty sensitive personal data.

What is clear is that Facebook is sneakily undermining Apple’s terms and conditions in an effort to build their user base. It shows how far the company is willing to go to protect their app’s dominance.

For now, the best way to protect yourself is by always reading the full terms and conditions before allowing any app access to your phone. And make sure to regularly check and update your Facebook privacy settings, on both your phone and your computer.

If you think that all these Facebook scandals sounds like a reality TV show episode, you’re not alone. Be sure to always read the latest on Facebook’s dirty dealings on the FixMeStick Blog!