NEWS12 June 2019

Facebook launches ‘research’ app

Data analytics Mobile News North America Privacy Technology

US – Facebook has developed a programme to pay people in exchange for data collected about the apps they use.

Person holding phone with Facebook login screen

The social network is recruiting participants to download its new ‘Study from Facebook’ app, which will collect and analyse information from their phones, including the apps they have installed and the amount of time spent using those apps.

The move follows a backlash against Facebook earlier this year, with Apple revoking some Facebook apps after it emerged the company had paid users to install a VPN in exchange for accessing data on their phone usage.

Users of the ‘Study’ app will be compensated for participating, with only those aged 18 and older eligible to participate “at launch”, Facebook said in a blog post. The company did not disclose how much participants would be paid for their data.

The app is initially only available in the US and India.

In addition to collecting information on what apps participants have installed on their phones, Facebook will look at their country, device and network type, and app activity names, which may show what app features a participant uses.

Facebook said it is collecting “the minimum amount of information” it needs to “build better products” and that users will periodically be reminded that they are part of the programme. The company said the app is not linked to people’s Facebook accounts, and does not collect user IDs, passwords, or content such as photos, videos, or messages.

Usability research company Applause has been appointed to manage the programme’s registration process, compensation and support.

Sagee Ben-Zedeff, product manager at Facebook, said: “Transparency and handling people’s information responsibly have guided how we’ve built Study from Facebook. We plan to take this same approach going forward with other market research projects that help us understand how people use different products and services.”