Perhaps with Apple’s focus on caring for the end user, it was no surprise that the company censure both Facebook and Google for violating its policies regarding data collection. Apple had made it clear that it only allows the collection of data that is directly related to the app. However, with ad networks and companies interested in your data as Facebook’s customers, Facebook would do everything in its power to extract as much data as possible. To achieve this, Facebook bypasses the Apple App Store and distributed an app called “Facebook Research App” directly to the users that sent back data such as “websites visited, messages sent, photos, videos, and more” (Hendrickson). The company market this app as a volunteer app that compensates $20 per user. Although Google had done the same thing using an app call Screenwise Meter, it did not seem to collect encrypted data.
The issue that Facebook and Google encountered is that, to avoid Apple strict data collection regulation, both companies had use special certificates to distribute apps to non-employees that were supposed to be company internal use only. In face of these violations, Apple had temporally shut down the internal apps of both companies. Although the shut down was lifted shortly and Apple had the right to do so, this action causes other companies to reevaluate Apple’s power over them. The most sensible approach would be to have two or more vendors to diminish the dependency and the alternative vendor that these companies can consider is android.
Many questions come to mind after dissecting these articles. Although Facebook had said that its app was volunteer only, did it not remember the last time the company got into trouble with the law over the data collection issue? Was it worth its reputation for Facebook to mine data from the limited number of people using the new app? Its reputation had already taken a hit and this new issue will perhaps entrench the image of Facebook as a data thief. While Apple and other vendors have the authority to intervene, I am unsure if Apple had thought through its action. What if other companies think that Apple is abusing its power and diverting their business to other vendors? What do you think Apple should have responded to Facebook’s and Google’s violations?