As headlines go, another story about Facebook in trouble over their mishandling of user data is “Dog Bites Man,” isn’t it? But when TechCrunch revealed last week that Facebook had been paying users for deep access to their private digital behavior, the story quickly blew up, catching Google in the blast as well, as Apple revoked the privileges that Facebook and Google were using to get at private data.
The story is cooling as quickly as it flared up; it’s literally last week’s news by the time you’re reading this. Again and again we’re learning the lesson, as Danny Crichton writes in TechCrunch, that consumers will consistently choose a free product that comes with surveillance over one that requires them to pay for their privacy. This time, at least, some people got paid to be surveilled.
- Facebook pays teens to install VPN that spies on them [TechCrunch] “Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android ‘Facebook Research’ app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page.”
- Facebook defends paying people to monitor them through its controversial app in a leaked memo to employees [Business Insider]
“‘Asking users to allow us to collect data on their device usage is a highly efficient way of getting industry data from closed ecosystems, such as iOS and Android,’ [Facebook executive Pedro Canahuati] wrote. ‘We believe this is a valid method of market research.'”
- Everything you need to know about Facebook, Google’s app scandal [TechCrunch] “In Google’s case, any unencrypted data that involves another person’s data could have been collected. In Facebook’s case, it goes far further — any data of yours that interacts with another person, such as an email or a message, could have been collected by Facebook’s app.”
- Apple vs. Facebook: It’s not all about privacy [Bloomberg Opinion] “Apple’s concern about its ‘users and their data’ might well be sincere, but this particular dispute isn’t about the fact that Facebook collected user data; it’s about the way that Facebook collected user data.”
From the Ohio Web Library:
- Foster, John Bellamy, and Robert W. McChesney. “Surveillance Capitalism.” Monthly Review: An Independent Socialist Magazine, vol. 66, no. 3, July 2014, p. 1.
- Wacks, Raymond. Privacy: A Very Short Introduction, 2nd edn. Oxford, 2016.
- Shoshana Zuboff. “Curb the Excesses of Surveillance Capitalism.” Washington Post, 25 January 2019, p. 1AD.