This has been going on since 2016.
The company said Google had always been "upfront with users" about how it used data collected by the app, which offered users points that could be accrued for gift cards. Its rewards program, unlike Facebook's, gave users the options to turn off temporarily the monitoring of their traffic.
Facebook has defended the program, but it raises questions about the social network's approach to user privacy, even in the wake of its string of scandals. The incident between Apple and Facebook is the latest twist in a nasty tech narrative that we highlighted in a cover story almost a year ago.
Facebook, though, used the certificate to sign a market research iPhone application that folks could install it on their devices.
"It wasn't 'spying" as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate.
The company admitted that teens had participated in the program but clarified that "less than 5 percent" of the people involved were in their teens.
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According to a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook claimed there was nothing secret about the effort and that it obtained parental consent for teens where required.
"Instead, the instruction manual reveals that users download the app from r.facebook-program.com and are told to install an Enterprise Developer Certificate and VPN and "Trust" Facebook with root access to the data their phone transmits".
As of Wednesday, a disclosure form on Betabound, one of the services that distributed Facebook Research, informed prospective users that by installing the software, they are letting Facebook collect a range of data.
As per Apple's guidelines, developers can only use this certification for internal testing of corporate apps so Facebook is clearly not adhering to that rule here.
"We can't aspire for good press while continuing to not play by the rules", another employee wrote in an internal discussion on the company's Workplace app.
"Like many companies, we invite people to participate in research that helps us identify things we can be doing better", Facebook said. Apple called that trick "a clear breach of their agreement with Apple", and revoked the certificate, leaving the company unable to test updates and new versions of its Facebook, Instagram, Messenger apps. This type of data gathering can not be done using an App Store app. "We don't share this information with others and people can stop participating at any time", as told by a Facebook spokesperson to TechCrunch.
The standoff between Apple and Facebook erupted hours before the social-networking giant reported record quarterly revenues from the fourth quarter of 2018 that beat analysts' expectations.
While Apple looks to some like Facebook's strictest privacy regulator at the moment, lawmakers have increased their calls for regulation in recent weeks.