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Facebook launches app that will pay users to collect their data

Study from Facebook will compensate users for allowing the social network access to data on how they use other apps on their phone.

The app will only initially be available to people in the US and India (Lauren Hurley/PA)
The app will only initially be available to people in the US and India (Lauren Hurley/PA)

Facebook has launched a new app which will pay users to allow the social network to collect data on how people use their device and the apps downloaded to it.

The new app, called Study from Facebook, will collect data on the amount of time spent using the apps on a device, as well as the names of activities used inside different apps and the participant’s country, device and network type.

Facebook said it would recruit participants by running adverts for the app, which people will be able to click on and register their interest, and if they qualify they will then be invited to download the app from Google Play Store.

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(Facebook)

The app will only initially be available to people in the US and India.

“Market research helps companies build better products for people. We believe this work is important to help us improve our products for the people who use Facebook,” Facebook’s Sagee Ben-Zedeff said in a blog post on the new app.

“We also know that this kind of research must be clear about what people are signing up for, how their information will be collected and used, and how to opt out of the research at any time.

“We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure. With this app, we’re collecting the minimum amount of information needed to help us build better products. People often have a lot of apps on their phone, so we’ll periodically remind participants that they are a part of the program. They’ll also have the opportunity to review the information they’re sharing with us.

“Study from Facebook does not collect user IDs, passwords, or any of the participant’s content, such as photos, videos, or messages. We also don’t sell information from the app to third parties or use it to target ads, and it is not added to a participant’s Facebook account if they have one.”

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(Facebook)

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny over its data practices following a number of high-profile data privacy incidents in recent years, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which up to 87 million people are believed to have had their data harvested by the political consultancy via a personality quiz app.

The new app also comes after Apple criticised Facebook earlier this year for launching an app named the Facebook Research App on its App Store – as well as on Android – which paid users as young as 13 for their app data.

Facebook said it had been clear on the app’s nature, but Apple said it had violated its policies and briefly revoked Facebook’s enterprise certificates, which blocked the social network’s access to the software used to create and test internal company apps.

On the new Study app, Facebook said: “Anyone who uses the app will be compensated for contributing to the research. Only people who are 18 and older will be eligible to participate at launch, and all participants will be able to opt out at any time.”

PA

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