For the past three years, Facebook has paid consumers aged 13 to 35 to download the Facebook Research application, which provides the company with wide access to their mobile devices.
Facebook reportedly paid users forapplication downloads through companies such as Applause, BetaBound and uTest. Participants learned about this opportunity with ads on Snapchat and Instagram. Minors were required to obtain the consent of their parents. After approval, participants downloaded the application through a browser, and not through the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
First, users needed to installthe so-called "root certificate". This allowed Facebook to view most of its browsing history and other network data, even if it is encrypted. The certificate is similar to a passport that changes form, with its help Facebook could impersonate anyone it wants. For example, if you visit the website of a clothing retailer, Facebook can use a root certificate to pretend to be a store and see the pants that you want to buy.
Facebook application has also established a connectionto a private network on demand, that is, it forwarded all traffic of participants through its own servers, before transmitting it to its final destination. In essence, this is what all VPNs do: they mask traffic, redirecting it, allowing you to hide things like your location.
Using a VPN connection and root certificate,Facebook was able to collect extensive data from the participants, including search history and surfing the Internet, which applications they used and for how long, as well as the messages / letters they sent and their content. Facebook also asked some people to take a screenshot from their Amazon orders page.
In general, nothing illegal and "spyware" inFacebook actions are not. The project called Project Atlas honestly warns that it conducts a study of the audience, and potential participants are tentatively informed about what data, including personal data, will be collected by the application, for which a reward is paid ($ 20 plus referral fee). However, the company openly did not advertise its involvement. After publication in the media, Facebook announced the closure of the iOS version of the Facebook Research application, but for Android it continues to work.