Apple Pulls Facebook Research App From Store, Instagram Also Affected

Apple blocked the Facebook’s Research VPN app in their store by pulling the company’s certificate and delivered a heavy public relations blow at the same time.

A TechCrunch investigation revealed that Facebook has been paying users to use an application called Facebook Research VPN that could collect the entirety of a user’s data. Even if the data collection was voluntary, it was being done in a way that violated the Apple terms of service.

Apple issued a special certificate to Facebook that allowed its apps for much deeper integration into iOS. The certificate was supposed to be used only for the internal distribution of apps within an organization, for beta testing and such, but Facebook used it in an app available through the App Store.

The app is still available for Android

Following the revelations, Facebook said that it pulled the app from the App Store, but the truth was that Apple kicked them out. What’s even more interesting, is that the without Facebook’s Enterprise Certificate, all of their apps, at least in the beta-testing phase, are no longer working, and that includes Facebook and Instagram.

Apple has been very clear about the entire situation. “We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

Facebook has been gathering market data for a long time, and their efforts have increased since the acquisition of Onavo, a VPN service. For now, it’s still unclear just how far Apple is going to pursue this matter. The main Facebook app is still working, but that might change in the coming days.

Just last week, court documents showed that Facebook was tricking kids into paying huge sums of money through third-party games. The hits keep on coming for the company, and this latest conflict with Apple is hurting them even more.

The Google Play Store still has the Facebook Research app, and there is no indication that the app is breaking any rules, so at least for the time being it’s still available.

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