To say that Facebook had a disastrous 2018 would probably be an understatement. It all began with the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal coming to light, which led to the social media company facing a lot of criticism (from both users and governments) and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the United States Congress. This was followed by multiple reports of the company’s unethical and illegal data collection practices, with even COO Sheryl Sandberg coming under fire. And even though 2019 has just begun, it doesn’t look like things are going to get better for Facebook anytime soon.
Recently, a report said that Facebook gained near-total access to the data on smartphones of volunteers (aged between 13 to 35 years) in exchange for $20 gift cards. Soon after, Apple blocked Facebook from distributing internal apps (e.g. pre-release versions of company’s apps). Now, Facebook has agreed to shut down the app, acknowledging that it violates Apple’s developer guidelines. According to a report by The Verge, the app – Facebook Research – will no longer be available on iOS. However, it’ll apparently continue to exist on Android.
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As noted by The Verge, Facebook Research requires users to install a custom root certificate on their smartphones, thereby allowing Facebook to view users’ private messages, emails, web searches, and even browsing history. It’s reportedly in violation of the developer guidelines put in place by Apple, which prohibit developers from installing any digital certificates on users’ devices. Interestingly, it’s not the first time an app from Facebook has been removed from Apple’s App Store. In August last year, the social media platform removed Onavo Protect, an encrypted VPN app, from the App Store because it violated Apple’s policies against data collection.