Last night, Apple revoked Facebook’s enterprise developer certificate over an app in flagrant violation of Apple’s developer policies. Called “Facebook Research,” which iOS app paid volunteers between the ages of 13 as well as 35 $20 a month in order to access nearly all their personal data — emails, web searches, internet browsing activity, as well as private messages on iPhones as well as iPads.
On Thursday afternoon, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed which the company’s Enterprise Certification — as well as therefore, its internal employee applications — was restored by Apple. “We are inside the process of getting our internal apps up as well as running. To be clear, This specific didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services,” the spokesperson added.
The social media giant used the private data of people who installed its app for market research to identify who its competitors were.
Facebook Research bypassed Apple’s App Store by allowing users to side-load the idea on iPhones as well as iPads in a way which violated Apple’s policies. Facebook shut the iOS type of the app down after Apple yanked the company’s developer credentials.
Apple said in a statement Wednesday: “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which will be a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which will be what we did in This specific case to protect our users as well as their data.”
This specific will be not once Facebook has run afoul of Apple’s developer policies. When its data-collecting Onavo VPN app was booted via the App Store last August, the company said, “As a developer on Apple’s platform, we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”
Apple’s decision to revoke Facebook’s developer certificate came just hours after TechCrunch first wrote about the Facebook Research app. The app will, however, continue to be available on Android.
In a statement issued to BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson said:
Key facts about This specific market research program are being ignored. Despite early reports, there was nothing “secret” about This specific; the idea was literally called the Facebook Research App. the idea wasn’t “spying” as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission as well as were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in This specific market research program were teens, all of them with signed parental consent forms.
Facebook previously collected similar data through an app called Onavo Protect, a VPN service which the idea acquired in 2013.
Facebook took down Onavo Protect via Apple’s App Store in 2018 after Apple said which the idea violated its policies which state which apps should not collect information about which additional apps are installed on a user’s device for marketing or analytics, nevertheless according to TechCrunch, a lot of the code inside the Facebook Research app will be similar to Onavo Protect.