By Queenie Wong
Some Facebook users have been giving the social network access to their phone activity in exchange for money as part of a research project since 2016. The story was first reported Tuesday by TechCrunch.Facebook, which critics say isn’t doing enough to protect the privacy of its users, has been giving people between the ages of 13 and 35 a payment of $20 per month plus referral fees for their phone and web activity. Facebook is able to access this data after users install a “Facebook Research” VPN app.

The company is able to view web searches, location information, private messages in social media apps, and other data, Guardian Mobile Firewall security specialist Will Strafach told TechCrunch. The study’s participants are even asked to screenshot a page showing what they ordered from Amazon, according to TechCrunch.

Beta testing services BetaBound, uTest and Applause helped distribute the app and don’t initially mention on the sign-up pages for the social media study that they’re letting Facebook access participants’ data. But if minors try to join the study through a page administered by Applause, they have to get their parents to sign a form that mentions Facebook’s involvement in the study.

Read the rest of the story on CNET.com