Facebook will once again begin paying people to monitor how they use their phone through a new app called Study. The app will monitor which apps are installed on a person’s phone, the time spent using those apps, the country you’re in, and additional app data that could reveal specific features you’re using, among other things.
The company previously rolled out two similar apps that tracked what activities people did on their phones. But both were shut down after drawing criticism for infringing on privacy and for violating Apple’s App Store guidelines.
The launch of Study shows that Facebook clearly feels that it still needs this data on how people are using their phones, and also that Facebook has learned a thing or two from the last controversy. Study will only be available to people 18 and up; it’ll only be available on Android, where deeper phone access can be granted by each user; and it’ll open with a series of screens describing what type of data the app collects and how it’ll be used.
Facebook promises it won’t snoop on user IDs, passwords or any of participants’ content, including photos, videos or messages. It won’t sell participants’ info to third parties, use it to target ads or add it to their account or the behavior profiles the company keeps on each user. Yet while Facebook writes that “transparency” is a major part of “Approaching market research in a responsible way,” it refuses to tell us how much participants will be paid.
An investigation from January revealed that Facebook had been quietly operating a research program codenamed Atlas that paid users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month in gift cards in exchange for root access to their phone so it could gather all their data for competitive analysis.