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Apple Shuts Down Facebook Data Collecting App

Since 2016, Facebook has been asking users to install a "Facebook Research" VPN that lets the company monitor their phone and online activity, according to Tech Crunch. 

The information mined includes private messages, photos, videos, emails, web searches and location information.

Facebook also asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page.

While adults up to 35 years old are taking part in the program, advertisements on Instagram and Snapchat specifically asked for those aged 13 to 17 to sign up.

Apple has shut down the iOS version of the app in the wake of this week's revelations.

IMAGE: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

"Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple," a spokesperson told Tech Crunch.

"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.”

The program is still available on Android.

A Facebook spokesperson has denied it was spying on people.

"It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear onboarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate,” they said.

"Finally, less than five per cent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms."

The controversy comes after a tumultuous 2018 for the social media giant.

In June last year, Facebooks Onavo security app was removed from the App Store for not complying with new privacy laws.

READ MORE: Mark Zuckerberg Declines To Appear Before "International Grand Committee" Investigating Facebook

READ MORE: Facebook Security Breach Hits 50 Million Accounts And Might Affect Instagram Too

The company was also embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a data breach that saw 50 million logins stolen by hackers.

But, despite back-to-back scandals, more and more people are using Facebook.

Source: AAP

The number of monthly users jumped 9 percent last year to 2.32 billion people.

The company's profits are on the rise too.

Facebook posted a record $US6.88 billion profit in the December quarter, up from $US4.27 billion the year before. Its revenue for the quarter rose 30 per cent to $US16.9 billion, according to the latest earnings report released Thursday.

So despite the on-going scandals and bad press, it seems the social media giant is doing better than ever.