Facebook has been mopping up users’ location data and web activity for years – and it’s all part of the service. Now the company is launching a new research app that will actually pay some smartphone users for the privilege of tracking their smartphone activity.
The social network has launched a new app called Study, which basically hands Facebook the keys to how you use your smartphone or, to put it another way, actually gives the company permission to do so. Study will track which apps are installed on the device, how long you spend using those apps and the features you’re accessing within those apps.
Facebook says it won’t see any actual content. So it won’t see what websites you visit, login details or personal messages. It also says the data won’t be used to target users with advertisements.
In a post on the Facebook Newsroom blog, the company writes: “We have a responsibility to keep people’s information safe and secure. With this app, we’re collecting the minimum amount of information needed to help us build better 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.”
Participation is via invitation, for users over 18, and the Study app is available for Android only. That’s likely because Apple has much more stringent controls on permissions and wouldn’t let this kind of thing fly.
Registration will be managed by clicking on an ad for the scheme within Facebook and qualifying applicants will be invited to download a link from the Play Store. It’ll be possible to opt out at any time. The company said the rewards will be dished out in actual money that’ll be paid into a PayPal account, but it didn’t say how much participants will be paid.