Chaos at Facebook after Apple blocks employee-only iOS apps used by thousands of staffers

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Facebook employees are furious after Apple


Facebook employees are furious after Apple’s crackdown on its controversial ‘research’ app led to it also blocking internal apps used by thousands of staffers. 

Apple yanked Facebook’s app permissions after a TechCrunch report found the company was skirting the iPhone maker’s App Store policies to distribute a research app that paid teens in exchange for letting them track their smartphone activity. 

As a result, Facebook employees were unable to access internal iOS apps, such as beta versions of the Facebook app, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. 

They were also unable to use employee apps for ‘seeing the day’s lunch schedule’ or book shuttles to and from work.

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Facebook employees are furious after Apple’s crackdown on its controversial ‘research’ app led to it also blocking internal iOS apps used by thousands of staffers

WHAT APPS ARE AFFECTED? 

Facebook employees are unable to access internal iOS apps, such as beta versions of the Facebook app, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. 

They were also unable to use employee apps for ‘seeing the day’s lunch schedule’ or use Ride, the company’s app for securing rides on its Menlo. 

Mobile Home, an app which posts updates for employees was also unavailable. 

Many staff were forced to download public versions of Facebook’s apps from the App Store instead. 

 

The move ended up hampering staffers’ productivity, as they were blocked from opening internal test versions of core apps. 

With staffers unable to access restricted versions of these apps, they were forced to download public versions from the App Store instead. 

‘This is probably one of the worse things that can happen to the company internally,’ one Facebook employee told Business Insider

Apple’s decision also meant Facebook employees couldn’t do basic things like use Ride, the company’s app for securing rides on its Menlo, Park campus, as well as Mobile Home, which posts updates for employees. 

Many Facebook employees began to vent their frustration in internal discussion groups, with some chastising Facebook for the chaos.

Others blamed Apple, saying the company was ‘out to get’ them. 

‘We can’t aspire for good press while continuing to not play by the rules,’ one employee said, according to Business Insider. 

Facebook has admitted to paying young people to install a 'social media research' app which monitors their web activity, according to reports. Apple banned the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the app store because it violated its data collection policies 

Facebook has admitted to paying young people to install a ‘social media research’ app which monitors their web activity, according to reports. Apple banned the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the app store because it violated its data collection policies 

‘Self-inflicted wound. When are we gonna learn?,’ another remarked. 

‘FYI: it’s total chaos over inside [Facebook] internal channels right now,’ New York Times reporter Mike Isaac tweeted

‘Half the people are like “uhhhh why do none of my apps work.” Truly amazing.’ 

Facebook said it was ‘working closely with Apple’ to bring the employee-only iOS apps back online, according to Business Insider. 

The company confirmed to several outlets on Wednesday that its internal apps were down as a result of the move. 

It’s unclear if the internal apps have been brought back online as of Thursday morning.  

WHY DID FACEBOOK’S RESEARCH APP GET BANNED BY APPLE? 

Facebook has been forced to kill off a controversial app after it admitted to paying young people to install the ‘social media research’ app which monitors their web activity, according to reports.

The social media giant, which has been harangued for privacy breaches in recent months, recruited people aged from 13-35 to download the app on their devices. 

Apple decided to ban the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the app store because it violated its data collection policies.  

But according to an investigation by TechCrunch, Facebook has sidestepped the App Store and paying users up to $20 a month, plus referral fees. 

Facebook later told TechCrunch it would shut down the iOS version of its Research app in the wake of the report – but that the Android version will continue.  

An Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch: ‘We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization,’ said a spokesperson. 

‘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.’ 

App Store rules stipulate that apps ‘should not collect information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device,’ according to Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert Will Strafach.

As Facebook employees are reeling from the company’s latest crisis, COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the controversial research app in an interview with CNBC.

Apple decided to ban the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the App Store because it violated its data collection policies. 

Facebook took advantage of Apple’s enterprise developer certificate, which enables companies to distribute apps internally, to create an app that paid users as young as 13 to share their phone activity with Facebook. 

Sandberg said Facebook pulled the app after it ‘realized we weren’t in compliance with the rules on [Apple’s] platform.’

However, it was Apple who yanked the ‘research’ app from its App Store, not Facebook. 

Sandberg emphasized that teens who took part in the ‘research project’ knew what they were getting into.  

As Facebook employees are reeling from the company's latest crisis, COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the controversial research app in an interview with CNBC, saying users 'consented'

As Facebook employees are reeling from the company’s latest crisis, COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the controversial research app in an interview with CNBC, saying users ‘consented’

‘I want to be clear what this is. This is a Facebook research app,’ Sandberg told CNBC.

‘It’s completely opt-in. There is a rigorous consent flow and people are compensated.  

‘…The important thing is that people involved in that research project knew they were involved and consented,’ she added. 

Many pointed out that, due to the debacle, Facebook may be subject to an extra review process when it submits apps to the App Store in the future.   

‘We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization,’ Apple told the Guardian

‘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’S PRIVACY DISASTERS

Facebook in late September disclosed that it had been hit by its worst ever data breach, affecting 50 million users – including those of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Attackers exploited the site’s ‘View As’ feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other users.  

The unknown attackers took advantage of a feature in the code called ‘Access Tokens,’ to take over people’s accounts, potentially giving hackers access to private messages, photos and posts – although Facebook said there was no evidence that had been done.

The hackers also tried to harvest people’s private information, including name, sex and hometown, from Facebook’s systems. 

Facebook said it doesn’t yet know if information from the affected accounts has been misused or accessed, and is working with the FBI to conduct further investigations.

However, Mark Zuckerberg assured users that passwords and credit card information was not accessed.

Facebook says it has found no evidence 'so far' that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)  

Facebook says it has found no evidence ‘so far’ that hackers broke into third-party apps after a data breach exposed 50 million users (stock image)  

As a result of the breach, the firm logged roughly 90 million people out of their accounts earlier today as a security measure.  

Facebook made headlines earlier this year after the data of 87 million users was improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy. 

The disclosure has prompted government inquiries into the company’s privacy practices across the world, and fueled a ‘#deleteFacebook’ movement among consumers. 

Communications firm Cambridge Analytica had offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.

‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.

The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.

This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.

It has also suffered several previous issues.

2013, Facebook disclosed a software flaw that exposed 6 million users’ phone numbers and email addresses to unauthorized viewers for a year, while a technical glitch in 2008 revealed confidential birth-dates on 80 million Facebook users’ profiles.  





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