Facebook spies teenagers using a VPN

The social network is paying some users to install a VPN that allows to monitorize all the activities of a smatphone.

Specialists in network security declare that Facebook has been paying secretly to some of their users to install a VPN, allowing the social network to monitorize all of the user’s activity in their smartphones on the intent of gather information about their competitors.

According to the investigation, Facebook is paying their users between 13 and 35 years old a number of 20 dollars aproximetly per month in exchange of the installation of the app “Facebook Research”. The program runs through the beta tester services like Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cover the participation of Facebook.

The appearance of these reports shoke Facebook, announcing that they would close the iOS version of this tool. However, Apple published an announcement last tuesday announcing that Facebook violated some of their policies, so Apple decided to block this tool, going against the version that confirmed that Facebook had eliminated this app voluntarily.

Facebook Research requires that the users allow access to their data. Will Strafach, specialist in security networks, analysed the app and he concluded that if Facebook uses the complete access that allows the user to this app, it can recolect important data like:

– Private conversations in the different platforms (including multimedia archives).

– Emails.

– Internet search and navigation history.

– Positioning data.

According to the specialist, Facebook obtains an access almost unlimited to the user’s device once Facebook Research is installed. This is a sample of how far Facebook can go to ensure their dominance as a social network platform and data gathering.

Tim Cook, Apple directive, criticize the data compilation of Facebook, because he considers that the social network broke the plicies of data from iOS when the gathered more data than the allowed amount the technologic companies can.

Facebook began this practice when they adquired Onavo in 2014. The VPN made analysis to minimize the data use from the users, although it also gathered details about the other app that were being used on that device. For example, thanks to Onovo, Facebook discovered that the double amount of messages were being sent via Whatsapp than Facebook messenger per day, vital information that made the social netowrk to buy Whatsapp for more than 19 millions of dollars in 2014. From then, Onavo began to gather useful information for the decision making of Facebook, until its closing in 2018 thanks to the complaints of the online privacy defensers.

Project Atlas

According to specialists in network security, Facebook has been paying some users to download Facebook Research, a similar VPN avaiable in the app stores, investigation plan known as “Atlas Project”.



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