Earlier yesterday, Facebook unveiled its Study for Facebook app in an attempt to understand how people use apps on their smartphones. In case you are unaware, Facebook had released its Research app few months back which contained similar features. According to a report by TechCrunch, the company had collected personal and sensitive data of 187,000 users.
The latest news shouldn’t come off as a massive surprise. Earlier this year, Apple banned the application by saying it was violating its policies. However, Facebook defended the practice by saying that it was paying for users’ data and it was collecting data with users’ consent.
As for the app itself, Facebook Research app required users to download the app from a third-party app store. It collected device data by installing a root certificate. While the app was marketed by saying that it was collecting data of only those who approved it, the app collected consenting users’ friends’ data as well.
Talking about the potential privacy setbacks of the latest rebrand of the Research app, Senator Richard Blumenthal told TechCrunch, “After its previous app was taken down and blocked from operating, Facebook moved more quickly to reintroduce a market research product than it has to provide any substantial consumer privacy protections or resolve the significant abuse on its platform. At a time when the company is under investigation for its data practices and anticompetitive actions, the Facebook Study app is at best tone-deaf and ill-considered.”
Facebook’s latest release comes as a huge surprise as the company is still under scrutiny over Cambridge Analytica scandal. At the moment, the company is focus of investigations for violating US anti-trust laws.