Facebook's new privacy scandal could jeopardize their already shaky relationship with Apple

It is Thursday, January 31, 2019. In case you forgot.

Facebook is getting under Apple's skin with pay-per-prey project

Facebook, which has demonstrated a miraculous ability to muster up scandal after scandal in the last year, may have really outdid itself this time.

According to a TechCrunch investigation, Facebook has been paying users to download a “Facebook Research” app that gives the company access to the information on participating users’ phones. Apparently, the operation dubbed “Project Atlas” started in 2016 and had been running ever since.

Participants downloaded a VPN that gave Facebook uninhibited access to all their internet usage, including what apps they had on their phones, their browser history, private messages, photos/videos sent, and location information. 

Facebook acquired participants through targeted ads on Instagram and Snapchat, not only paying participants a monthly rate but also giving out bonuses for referrals.  

While definitely creepy, participants did knowingly grant access to this information. The larger story was how Facebook was able to pull this off on iOS devices.  

One bad Apple user

According to Apple, Facebook abused their Enterprise Certificate, allowing them to give participants access to the research app without having to go through the App Store (the enterprise certificate is supposed to only be used for internal Facebook employee-only apps). 

Apple has since revoked Facebook’s Enterprise Certificate, which not only broke the research app, but also shut down all of Facebook’s legitimate internal apps.   

Cook shook, while FB investors appear unfazed 

The extent of the fallout from Facebook’s latest scandal is yet to be seen, however, it will surely tarnish their relationship with Apple -- which is already shaky at best. 

Last year, Apple announced new Safari anti-tracking features that would make it more difficult for Facebook to track users and target ads.  

Miraculously, despite Facebook’s scandal-plagued 2018, the company continued to add users and exceed revenue expectations.
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Brendan Uyeshiro
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