Facebook has struggled to get teens to adopt their platform, and it is more Grandma than Grandson these days. They have faced numerous public security breaches in the past two years, but this does not seem to slow down consumption of the platform whatsoever, nor their mission to collect personal behavioral data on its users.
For the past few years, they have been rolling out what has been called internally “Project Atlas.” Facebook has been paying people ages 13 to 25 as much as $20 month in exchange for installing an app called Facebook Research, which monitors their phone and web activity and sends it back to Facebook.
“The Research app requires that users install a custom root certificate, which gives Facebook the ability to see users’ private messages, emails, web searches, and browsing activity. It also asks users to take screenshots of their Amazon order history and send it back to Facebook.”
They ran ads on competitor Snapchat, without ever stating it was Facebook, and only vague things like sign up for a “social media study.”
In the recent wake of public knowledge, Apple has removed the application from its store stating that it breaks their data collection privacy laws. Facebook has done little to respond to this, only denying that they are violating the policy yet not able to explain further how.
It is obvious that many of the teens had absolutely no idea what they were installing and how detailed the personal information they were giving away. This practice is unscrupulous, and everyone needs to become more aware so that we can consult with our youth. It is important that you know what is on your kids’ phones and that they understand the things they are signing up for.
Facebook’s mission to collect personal data knows no boundaries but thankfully there are continual safeguards along the way that help to slow down progress such as the press, and, distributors like Apple who have their own stringent policies for applications to get through.
However, it did gain a good deal of traction before it became public. And with device proliferation, we are all sharing data with companies every day. Bottom line, we can control how much, and more education needs to get to the masses about these deceptive tactics.