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Facebook: 'We'll pay you if we can track your apps'

13 Jun 2019
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After years of tracking people with various forms of implied (and explicit) consent, Facebook is now allowing people to opt-in to being market research guinea pigs – and it will offer 'compensation' to people who do it. 

Facebook has announced Facebook Study, a market research programme that pays users to share how they use apps installed on their devices. That information will then be used to boost Facebook’s own products.

Facebook Study will only be available to Facebook users in the United States and India at first, but it will roll out to other countries over time.

According to Facebook product manager Sagee Ben-Zedeff, Facebook is offering transparency, compensation to participants, and assurances that information will remain ‘safe and secure’.

What information will Facebook Study collect from participants? The apps installed on participants' phones; the time participants spend using apps; participants' country, device and network type; and App activity names, which may show the names of app features a participant is using.

That information will allow Facebook to understand which apps people value and how they're used; and to further understand the Facebook community to improve Facebook Company Products.

“People often have a lot of apps on their phone, so we’ll periodically remind participants that they are a part of the program. They’ll also have the opportunity to review the information they’re sharing with us,” says Facebook.

“Anyone who uses the app will be compensated for contributing to the research. Only people who are 18 and older will be eligible to participate at launch, and all participants will be able to opt out at any time.”

Facebook is making it clear that it won’t collect User IDs, passwords, or content that is shared over the apps, such as photos and messages. 

Facebook won’t sell collected data to third parties, or use data to target ads to participants – so it seems like it’s merely a way for Facebook to gather more information to boost its own services.

However, Facebook admits that it will “reference other information Facebook has about a participant, such as their age, gender and how they use Facebook Company Products”. 

“Approaching market research in a responsible way is really important. 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,” says Ben-Zedeff.

Facebook partner Applause will manage the registration process, participant compensation, and customer support.