Let users sell their data to Facebook

It is easy to be outraged by the revelation that Facebook has been paying users between the ages of 13 and 35 up to US$20 (S$27) a month to allow practically unlimited access to their smartphone usage data. But outrage about the social media giant is so 2017. The latest dubious practice could be an opportunity to consider a more finely tuned business model than the one Facebook uses today.

According to an investigation by tech journalist Josh Constine for TechCrunch, the young users are paid for installing an app called Facebook Research, offered through the beta-testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest, not directly by Facebook. The app asks users to install a root certificate, which gives Facebook access to pretty much everything the phone contains, from private message exchanges to location data.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Let users sell their data to Facebook'. Print Edition | Subscribe