WASHINGTON – Facebook paid users, including teens, watched their smartphone business as part of an effort to gather additional data that could help competing social networking efforts, according to a new report that could raise new concerns about privacy.
An investigation at the TechCrunch on-line news site said that the effort, which was known as the Onavo project and later renamed Facebook Research, was used to collect data on habits.
The news could be another embarrassment for Facebook, which has been under more vigilant control over its failure to prevent manipulation of its platform and the sharing of private data with its business partners.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook has announced that after the release of the article, the app closes Apple's iOS on Wednesday but apparently remains active for Android users.
The report states that the original Onavo application was closed due to Apple's privacy violation and that the new version may also violate Apple's terms of service.
The program paid users from 13 to 35 years old up to $ 20 a month for "root" access to their devices to track their location, application usage, spending habits and other activities.
According to TechCrunch, Facebook claimed that the effort was not secret and that it reached parental consent for teenagers if necessary.
In his statement to AFP, Facebook said Facebook was "no secret" in its endeavors and that Onavo and Facebook Research are separate programs.
"It was not" spying "because all the people who signed up for a clear process on board asked for their permission and paid for participation," said a statement from Facebook.
"Finally, less than five percent of the people who opted to take part in this market research program were young people, all with their signed parental consent formats."