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It doesn’t stop for Facebook. Last Tuesday it appeared that Facebook users – some of them under the age of 18 – paid to participate in a program in which the social network collected a lot of data. Facebook used a VPN app, which is now blocked by Apple.

The TechCrunch site discovered last Tuesday that Facebook was distributing a VPN app through Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program, which is intended for internal business services only. As this was a violation of Apple’s terms of use, the app has now been blocked.

Larger impact

Facebook immediately notices Apple’s action. Not only has Apple blocked the VPN app, which was called Facebook Research, but Apple has also revoked Facebook’s permission to distribute internal apps in their entirety. As a result, some of Facebook’s internal iOS apps are no longer accessible, as well as trial versions of Facebook services used by the company’s developers.

This disruption of Facebook’s work is just the tip of the iceberg. Facebook has recently been the subject of several discussions about its privacy policy. Leaked user data, extensive tracking and more have ensured that Mark Zuckerberg’s network is investigated both in the United States and in the European Union. In addition, the network is rapidly losing users in Western countries, which is probably partly reinforced by these privacy concerns.

Every aspect

According to TechCrunch, the app that was blocked went quite far in its collection method. Users received a $20 gift card every month and had to transfer information about just about every aspect of their online life in exchange. The app had access to users’ browsing history, private messages sent via social media, emails and attachments from those emails.

Facebook was also able to track the location of users by retrieving data from other apps that collected location data. In addition, some users had to take screenshots of their Amazon orders. In a statement, Facebook states that there was nothing secret about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. According to Facebook, the app would not be spying, because all these people gave explicit permission and were paid for their participation in this program.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.