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Is Facebook paying users to install an app that could collect all kinds of data from their phones?

By Saheli Roy Choudhury

Facebook has been paying people in secret to install an app that allows tech giants to collect data on how they use their smartphones, TechCrunch reported Tuesday evening.

Since 2016, the social networking giant has been paying teenagers and adults up to $ 20 a month plus referral fees to install the so-called "Facebook Research" app on their Apple or Android phones, according to TechCrunch. This program is said to be administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest and is referred to as "Project Atlas."

TechCrunch revealed that according to a security expert, the app allows Facebook to collect data including private messages in social media apps, photos and videos to send, emails, web searches and web browsing activities. It can also track ongoing location information from other location tracking apps installed in the user's phone, according to the report.

And Facebook spokesperson acknowledged to CNBC that the company is running the program to collect data on usage habits.

"Like many companies, we invite people to participate in research that helps us identify things we can be doing better," the spokesperson said. "Since this research is aimed at helping Facebook understand how people use their mobile devices, we've provided extensive information on the type of data we collect and how they can participate."

"We do not share this information with others and people can stop participating at any time," the spokesperson added.

The move from Facebook could potentially be an infringement of Apple policy since many of the users on the program are installing the app on iPhones.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comments, but a spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company is aware of the issue.

Last year, Apple removed Facebook's Onavo security app from the App Store because it did not comply with its privacy rules, which stated that apps should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user's device.

Read more about TechCrunch's report on how Facebook pays users to install an app to collect data on them.

This article was first published by CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/29/facebook-paying-users-to-install-app-to-collect-data-techcrunch.html and is republished with its permission .

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