Facebook has admitted that 18% of the users in its infamous ‘Research Program’ were minors, as opposed to its previous claims where it stated that less than 5% of the users were. Facebook recently ran a ‘Research Program’ which asked users to install a VPN app that circumvented Apple’s App Store and get 20$ gift cards in exchange.
An investigation by TechCrunch revealed that Facebook was trying to track the internet usage of the teens by making them install a VPN that extensively tracked their browsing and internet usage.
Though Facebook initially denied that minors were not a major part of the users, it later admitted that 18% of the ‘Research Program’ users were minors.
As a matter of fact, many of Facebook’s claims regarding the ‘Research Program’ have turned out to be false. First off, the age eligibility criteria for this program was 13 to 35 years old. Among this age group, 22% of the users were in the 13 to 18 ages. Therefore, even the 18% of teen users is also a false claim.
22% of the users being teens is a significant number and in such a case it can be said that the teens were being targeted for monitoring data and browsing habits.
Though Facebook claimed that the users under the age of 18 had to take parental consent, it was found that in many cases, teen-users just had to check a box saying they had parental consent.
After installing this ‘Research Program’ VPN application, users had to give root access to this application for monitoring the network traffic.
Tech experts said that this application could gain access to all sorts of data that is being shared and can precisely track the browsing history of the user.
Facebook also claimed that they have removed their application from iOS when many outlets reported about Facebook’s attempt to target teen users.
However, it was later revealed that Apple forcibly removed this application from the AppStore as it violated the Enterprise Certificate Program as the program is meant to be used for businesses, not as a backdoor to access consumers.
The whole ‘Research Program’ affair seems to be an addition to the multiple data and user-privacy violations of Facebook. On top of this, these false claims give rise to more suspicion.