Apple bans Facebook’s data-collecting app targeting users as young as 13

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Apple has taken down Facebook’s ‘research’ app, saying that the social network violated the company’s privacy rules by distributing a data-collecting app through its internal program.

The Silicon Valley-based company blocked Facebook’s Research VPN app from its internal Enterprise Developer Program earlier this week, TechCrunch reported. Apple’s spokesperson told the publication that the social network was in “clear breach” of its agreement, as its program was designed “solely” for sharing apps within an organization, not distributing to consumers.

Facebook had been distributing Research VPN app since 2016. Users, aged between 13 and 35, were paid $20 a month to download and install it on their mobile phones. The app would then give Facebook access to a variety of personal data. It is not clear what type of data Facebook was monitoring, but, once installed, the app would give the tech giant “nearly limitless access” to a user’s smartphone, TechCrunch wrote.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company denied that it ever ‘spied’ on users. All users who downloaded the app went through a “clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate,” a Facebook spokesperson said, adding that “less than five percent” of them were teenagers.

Facebook later stated that it decided to pull the iOS version of the app – after it was blocked by Apple. It is still available on Android.

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