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Facebook wants to give you money for your data

Facebook will supposedly use the data from the Study app to learn how people use other apps.

Published onJune 11, 2019

Facebook Logo App
  • Facebook announced and launched the Study from Facebook research app today.
  • The app collects data on one’s app usage, app feature usage, device, and more.
  • Participants will be recruited through advertisements and don’t have to be Facebook users.

Earlier today, Facebook launched the Study from Facebook app. Only available on Android and reported by TechCrunch today, the app is Facebook’s attempt to be less creepy about collecting data from research participants.

The Study app will warn you that Facebook will learn which apps are installed on your phone, how long you use those apps for, and the names of features you use in other apps. Facebook will also learn the country you’re in, what device you use the Study app on, and the network type.

Facebook plans to recruit adults age 18 and older in the U.S. and India through advertisements. The social network will display the ads on its own app and others to those that use and don’t use Facebook. Participants from other countries will eventually be recruitable, but not for the time being.

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Clicking the ad will bring you to Applause’s website. Applause is Facebook’s research operations partner for the Study from Facebook app. From there, the website will inform you of the Facebook partnership, the Study app being opt-in, what data you’ll turn over to Facebook, what compensation you’ll receive, and how you can opt out of the app.

You’ll need a PayPal account, with Facebook cross-checking the age on your Facebook profile to see if it matches with the age you type in. There’s no non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to sign, so you can publicly talk about as much or as little of the Study app as you want to.

Facebook will not collect user IDs or passwords through the app.

Anyone can download the Study app from the Google Play Store, but only those who are approved through Applause will get to log in and use it. You’ll get notified periodically of your selling your data to Facebook and your ability to opt out at any time.

Money and privacy

If you choose to remain, Facebook will compensate you for the data you give up. Facebook didn’t say how much it’ll compensate participants, though its now-defunct Project Atlas initiative reportedly doled out up to $20 a month.

Facebook notes that it will not collect user IDs, passwords, or content you share with others. Also, Facebook will not sell data from the Study app to third-party entities or use the data to deliver targeted ads.

On one hand, the Study app could lead to Facebook incorporating new features into its apps, such as screen-sharing or an expanded group video chat. On the other hand, the Study app adds fuel to the fire from those, particularly politicians, concerned about privacy and Facebook’s data gathering.

Overall, the Study app arrives at a weird time for Facebook. The social network is facing pressure from antitrust regulators and is still feeling the effects of the Cambridge Audio Audio Analytics scandal. Whether people will take Facebook seriously and hand over data for a price is something only time will tell.

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