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Facebook’s new Study app pays adults for data after teen scandal

Facebook shut down its Research and Onavo programs after TechCrunch exposed how the company paid teenagers for root access to their phones to gain market data on competitors. Now Facebook is relaunching its paid market research program, but this time with principles — namely transparency, fair compensation, and safety. The goal? To find out what other competing apps and features Facebook should buy, copy, or ignore.
Today Facebook releases its “Study From Facebook” app for Android only. Some adults 18+ in the US and India will be recruited by ads on and off Facebook to willingly sign up to let Facebook collect extra data from them exchange for a monthly payment. They’ll be warned that Facebook will gather what apps are on their phone, how much time they spend using those apps, the app activity names of features they use in other apps, plus their country, device, and network type.
Facebook’s new Study app pays adults for data after teen scandal

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 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.
“Study From Facebook” could give the company critical insights for shaping its product roadmap. If it learns everyone is using screensharing social network Squad, maybe it will add its own screensharing feature. If it finds group video chat app Houseparty is on the decline, it might not worry about cloning that functionality. Or if it finds Snapchat’s Discover mobile TV shows are retaining users for a ton of time, it might amp up teen marketing of Facebook Watch. But it also might rile up regulators and politicians who already see it as beating back competition through acquisitions and feature cloning.

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