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Home / Tips and Tricks / Did Apple really go Facebook and Google Apps? Why?

Did Apple really go Facebook and Google Apps? Why?



  Apple's iPhone Privacy Advertising at CES 2019
Johnny Wen

Facebook and Google have violated Apple's policy and distributed apps that tracked user behavior outside Apple's App Store, which TechCrunch reported. Apple temporarily banned Facebook and Google from running internal software and sent a strong message.

Facebook-supervised users (with consent)

Facebook likes to know as much as possible about their users and what they spend your time on, both on and off Facebook. Remember that, despite what it says, Facebook's customers are not you (the person using the social network), but ad networks and other companies interested in your information. Facebook also wants to know why and when you use alternatives to the social network.

In order to better track which users do outside Facebook, the company created a voluntary program called "Facebook Research App" which served as a VPN when installed on phones. VPN sent data to Facebook, including visited sites, messages sent, photos, videos, and more. The app also required users to install a root certificate, which enabled tracking data that would usually be encrypted. Volunteers must choose to install the app and receive $ 20 a month in e-gift cards

Whether volunteers fully or partially understood how much data they gave away is questionable. The app had explanations and a user agreement, but as we all know, many do not read past the $ 20 offer. They jump directly to the OK button.

Early reports suggested Facebook-specific teenagers specifically, but that doesn't seem to be the case because the company has stated that most users were adults. Facebook also said that minors were required to request parental leave, but some tests have shown that parental control did not always function as intended and it may be possible for a minor to enroll in the program without proving parental consent .

Facebook Abused a Business Tool

 Onavo Protecting Google Play Listing

Here is the key to understanding this story: Facebook did not typically distribute this app through the Apple App Store. Apple previously banned a similar Facebook-owned VPN app from the App Store called Onavo Protect and changed their terms of use to limit data collection to just that directly related to the app.

Facebook rose around this problem by distributing the app outside the App Store. Page downloading an app on iPhone is usually not easy or easy for the average person, but Facebook had an advantage here. As a large company, Apple granted a special certificate that allowed the distribution of apps outside Apple's App Store. The primary purpose of this process is to test future apps (internal beta) and corporate access apps (eg, an enterprising social network or a company's restaurant menu system).

Apple clarifies that these certificates are not distributed to the average users, and that apps built for these certificates should remain internal to the company. Apple's TestFlight is the only Apple-sanctioned beta test with user, but retains strict limits and still depends on the App Store. Despite this rule, Facebook used the certificate to install their Facebook Research app on the volunteer phone volunteers who did not work for Facebook.

Apple shuts off Facebook's internal application

Due to this violation, Apple revoked the certificate that makes these internal apps work. This broke the Facebook Research app and Facebook's internal applications, including testing, transportation and restaurant menu app. It is not clear how many employees this is directly affected.

Apple's actions did not block any Facebook apps available on the App Store, including Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp. Facebook has then closed down Facebook Research on IOS, but it still has a similar app on Android.

Apple restored Facebook's ability to run internal apps a day later, and everything is normal again.

Google had a tracking app, For

 List Viewer on the Google Play Store

Google had a similar program called Screenwise Meter in place and Google distributed it with the same certificate method on iOS. Google does not seem to have monitored encrypted data. The first volunteer in a household to register must also be 18 or older and then the adult can add a minor. Like Facebook, Google paid volunteers $ 20 a month to provide their information.

Apple also closed Google's internal iOS apps and cited the same policy violation and Google drew the iOS app Screenwise Meter. Google stated that the Screenwise Meter would not have been distributed that way, and Apple has also reinstalled Google's internal iOS apps.

Again, Google Apps in the Apple App Store has not been affected by any of these. Google continues to offer Screenwise Meter on Android.

As far as both companies are concerned, paying users are collecting this comprehensive data perfectly well. They are not alone. If anything, compared to food business cards, this is more transparent. It is similar to Nielsen's companies that track television series, albeit on a larger scale.

Apple was not happy, its policies were broken

Apple was not happy about how Facebook and Google bypassed their App Store policies, violating corporate license rules by distributing certificates to non-employees. Facebook did all this despite a direct warning from Apple that it spells this type of data tracking.

By disabling corporate internal applications, Apple sent a direct message stating that this behavior was unacceptable. Apple managed to send a strong signal to Facebook and Google without really breaking the apps that regular Facebook and Google users depend on. You can still use Facebook apps on your iPhone, but employees couldn't start their internal applications for a day or so.

Has Apple Abused Its Power?

This event is a reminder that Apple has control over its mobile operating system and the code that can run on it. Apple not only curates the apps allowed in the App Store but can remove and revoke access to those apps when needed. Apple does this when malware is detected in an app that slides through, for example.

The company went in to enforce its policy, which violated Facebook and Google. Apple was probably assured that Facebook and Google would behave in the future before resuming their ability to run internal applications, but we do not know what was being discussed between the companies.

Apple has always run the IOS as a tightly controlled "walled garden" In contrast to the "wild west" of Google's Android and now we all know what we sign up for. If Apple's control over the operating system disturbs you, you have at least one option: Android.

But this kind of control is not unique to Apple. While Google does not curate the Play Store directly, it can and can remove apps from the store and user's phones. Exercising this force is something that Google does sparingly and usually remove malicious apps to protect users, but ultimately the effect is similar.


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