Facebook Debuts a New Tracking App Just Months After Controversy Over a Similar App
Facebook is offering to pay people who download a new app that tracks what they do on their phones.
The company on Tuesday announced the new app, called Study, which will collect data about its users. Study will report back to Facebook about the apps that users have on their phones; how much time they spend on those apps; what they do on them, the country they live in, and the type of device they use.
Facebook said it will use the information it collects to help develop its own products.
The rollout of the app comes nearly four months after Facebook faced backlash over paying users of a different app it had created that tracked their app use, private messages, and locations. In some cases, the app reportedly targeted users as young as 13-years old.
Apple responded by banning the app from its app store and revoking certain developer privileges, explaining that Facebook had violated Apple’s policies. Facebook shut down the app for iOS users in January and then later did the same to the Android version.
Facebook promised users of its new Study app that it would be transparent about the information it collects and that the app would be secure.
“We’ve learned that what people expect when they sign up to participate in market research has changed, and we’ve built this app to match those expectations,” Sagee Ben-Zedeff, a product manager at Facebook, said in a blog post.
The Study app will only be available on the Google Play store. The company plans to try to make it available more broadly in the future.
Anyone in the U.S. or India who are 18 or older can sign up for the new Study app. They do not need to be Facebook users.
To register, interested participants must click on a Study ad, which will run on Facebook and other services. After users install the app, it will regularly remind them about what it’s tracking. Participants will be paid an undisclosed monthly amount. With its previous research app, Facebook paid users $20 monthly in gift cards.
Facebook said Study would not collect user IDs, passwords, or content, including photos, videos, or messages. The company also said it wouldn’t sell user information to third parties or use it to target ads.
However, Facebook said it could share the fact that a user is participating in the program with “authorized partners” and that it also could share aggregate data with third parties.
Though the Study app will not be integrated into Facebook’s user accounts, it will get access to users’ Facebook information like their age, gender, and how they use Facebook products. It also may collect user information that Facebook has obtained from third-party sources.
Study participants can opt out of the app at any time, but the company will keep any information it has already collected.
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