Up To 18% Of Facebook Users Paid For Its Spyware, Not Less Than 5% As It Say

Indira Datta - Mar 05, 2019

Up To 18% Of Facebook Users Paid For Its Spyware, Not Less Than 5% As It Say

Facebook said, “Less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens”. According to TechCrunch, the number of people who have downloaded the Facebook Researchnow reaches 18%.

Facebook has paid teens through gift cards to allow it to install spyware on their phones to keep track of all browser usage and other applications. This has created a wave of strong resentment from rival companies because accessing the entire smartphone activity of 13-year-old children allows Facebook to gain a lot of advantages in collecting information and finding strategies against competitors.


Facebook pays for teenagers to be allowed to monitor all web activities and applications on their smartphones

When this news was published, many mixed reflections condemned this advantage of Facebook. Although the company has stated that it is necessary for parents to agree for the children to participate in this commitment, there was no consent obtained. Without moral consideration of Facebook's behavior, the company was found to underestimating the number of young people willing to become experimental subjects for this program.

On January 29, a Facebook spokesman initially said:


Meanwhile, according to what Facebook told TechCrunch, the percentage of people who have downloaded the Facebook Research App now reaches 18%.

Perhaps Facebook has responded to the number of people who are using the software at the time instead of the number of people downloaded the software during the entire program. Because the big difference figures show that Facebook seems to have underestimated the number of people joining its program. The 18% figure is collected by analysts during the lifetime of the program and for those who have installed or are no longer active. And the less than 5% that Facebook provided is just the number of people still using the software when the program is public.


The percentages for Facebook's teens are much lower than the actual figures

Facebook's Research Program limits participation age from 13 to 35, while up to 22% are from 13 to 18 years old. This shows that Facebook does not intend to minimize the participation of youth in the program, and in fact, they are not a minority of participants as well.

In addition, Facebook has also stated that underage users need to provide a signed consent form to be allowed to join the program. There was no such thing. Facebook answered with Senator Mark Warner that:


In some cases, they just need to check in a box to confirm parents' allowance to get money from Facebook and allow the company to track their online activity on their smartphone. There is no real confirmation from parents or proof of their age.

Recently, the company was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, announcing the removal of the Research App application from the iOS platform. However, the truth is Apple actively blocked the Facebook Research App because it violated the company's Enterprise Certificate program rules. In short, Facebook did not voluntarily remove this application.

This app kept running on Android devices for nearly a month. Facebook's Onavo app, an application is said to protect information for users, but actually works like the Research App, because it sends all user information and activity data to the company even when the app is off. Apple has banned the application since last year because it violated the company's policy, Facebook said it will also remove this application in the near future.


Sheryl Sandberg: The teens "consented" to putting Facebook spyware on their phones

Of course, the tech giant has created great scripts to justify taking advantage of kids' devices by paying for them. The company said it expects more people to participate in this research program to help them improve the quality of their services and products. However, we can simply understand that the program will bring a lot of benefits to Facebook, especially profits.

According to Facebook, the company has provided enough information and terms to teens who accept to participate in the program. Participants must accept clear terms in order to join this program. They are required to confirm over 18 years of age or have proof of approval from their parents if they are underage, although the providers do not require approval forms from parents.

A consent form from parents will help them manage and control the actions and decisions of children who are not independent enough. Facebook wants to gather as much information about user activity as it does on browsers and other applications. Meanwhile, children who are not old enough to work are willing to trade their privacy for $20 per month. They can give away their privacy without thinking about the consequences later.

The social giant has also emphasized that all the information and data they collect is not shared with anyone and those who are using it can stop participating in the program whenever they want.

Fortunately, people can stop participating in the program at any time, but the commitment to not share that data with any other party is not very trustful. Facebook has repeatedly been helpless in controlling users' information and data, so people have tons of reasons not to trust the company's commitment.

Senator Mark Warner gave his feelings in the letter to answer questions regarding this issue. Although he was glad to know that Facebook showed its role in outstanding research, but he still very concerned about the way that the company track their opponents through users by the Research App and VPN Onavo. This is not how users expect them to use in order to improve their services.


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