Facebook's Study program pays for information about the apps you use

Facebook wants your data.                  Angela Lang  CNET

Facebook wants your data. Angela Lang CNET

Facebook has rolled out a new Study from Facebook marketing research program that involves users downloading an app to collect data from their phone.

Facebook said it will promote Study through advertisements on the social network and elsewhere, and users must be 18 years or older to participate. According to its page, participants will be paid for agreeing to share their app-usage data such as what apps are installed on the phone, how much time the user spends using those apps and what devices are being used. If someone clicks on an ad, they'll will be asked to register - and if they qualify - will be asked to download the Study with Facebook app from the Google Play Store.

Facebook said it will not track passwords or account IDs and it will periodically remind people that the app is collecting their data.

Study From Facebook is the social media company's way to learn how people use mobile apps. The company also said it will not sell any information it collects via the app to third parties or use it to target ads.

Apps you've installed on your phone. Facebook did not say how much compensation users will receive for the Study app. Advertisers have reaped the benefits of the company's ad targeting capabilities, but marketers want safe platforms - and channels - where their messaging can be heard without the risk of people's data being misused, or worse, stolen. It was removed from the app store and then shut down by Facebook. Facebook quickly disbanded the research effort. "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". But privacy experts say incentivizing the sale of data complicates the question of consent.

"Providing users this up front sort of notice is definitely a good thing, and should be the norm for any company which markets, advertises or otherwise makes use of users' personal information for generating revenue", said Nathan Wenzler, the senior director of cybersecurity at wealth management firm Moss Adams.

"Transparency and handling people's information responsibly have guided how we've built Study from Facebook", Sagee's post concludes.

Facebook did not respond to a request for additional comment on Study.

"This is a mixed bag for privacy", he said. "However, the timing and tone is problematic and suspect, only coming after they got caught".

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