We already know that our data is worth a lot to companies. There's a reason many tech firms are invested in tracking every bit of activity we perform online, whether it's to use it for their own purposes or to sell to third parties. Now Facebook is offering to pay you directly for that information. The company's new app Study is asking people to give the company access to their phones so it can see what apps they are using.
While you might be antsy to cash in on Facebook's offer — these companies are going to get your data no matter what, so might as well cash in on it, right? — it's not quite as simple as just signing up and getting paid. Facebook is going to run advertisements encouraging people to participate in the program, which a representative tells Mic will appear both on its platform and on third-party sites. When someone clicks on the ad, they will be sent to a page that will allow them to register for the program. Facebook will then vet you and determine if you qualify.
To make the cut for Facebook Study, users will have to be 18 or older and, to start, located in the United States or India — though it's likely Facebook will expand to other regions sometime in the future. Notably, Facebook told Mic that Study participants will not have to be Facebook users. No Facebook account will be required to join and partake in the Study program.
If approved, users will be asked to download the Study from Facebook app, available through the Google Play Store. It doesn't appear that Facebook will be running this program for iOS users, perhaps because of Apple's restrictions on data collection that may complicate matters. It's also probably in part because the last time Facebook tried to pay people for data, Apple banned the app and revoked the company's Enterprise Certificate that allowed it to distribute the app. At the time, Facebook was offering to pay teenage users in exchange for root access to their devices and all data activity, which is considerably more invasive than this latest iteration of the program.
Study from Facebook will disclose to users what information it is collecting and will be asked to confirm their willingness to provide that data before continuing. They will also have the right to opt out at any time. According to Facebook, it plans to collect and analyze information including the apps installed on a participant's phone; the amount of time they spend using those apps; their country; device and network type; and some app activity including information about specific features that they make use of in an app.
Facebook said that it will not collect potentially invasive and personal information like user IDs, passwords, or any other content like photos, videos, or messages. The company is also promising not to sell any of the information to third parties or allow users to be targeted for advertisements based on their activity collected by the Study from Facebook app. The information also won't be linked to a user's Facebook account.
In exchange for that information, users will have a monthly payment given to them for as long as they participate. Facebook says it will make payments via PayPal — an interesting choice seeing as the company has its own cryptocurrency on the way soon.
Just how much is Facebook paying users for their data? The company declined to specify when asked. Seeing as Facebook will likely be using the data to determine potential acquisition targets and to improve its own products that could generate quite a bit of revenue for the company, let's hope that it is a generous stipend.