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Apple freezes Facebook’s internal apps to protect user privacy

The move is in retaliation to Facebook’s use of a data-gathering app.

Apple freezes Facebook’s internal apps to protect user privacy

Apple retaliates against Facebook's use of a data-gathering app. (Photo: Unsplash)

Facebook’s headquarters were reportedly in chaos yesterday, following Apple’s decision to shut down the social network’s internal apps yesterday (Jan 30).

The shutdown comes in response to TechCrunch’s report on Tuesday (Jan 29) that Facebook has been using Apple’s program for internal app distribution to track teenage customers with a “research” app, offering them payments of up to US$20 (S$29.94) monthly in return for tracking their data and mobile activity.

Apple has shut down Facebook’s ability to distribute internal iOS apps, from early releases of the Facebook app to basic tools. According to The Verge, Facebook employees are unable to open company apps for transportation and the lunch menu, along with beta versions of Facebook apps like Messenger and Instagram.

Dubbed “Project Atlas”, the offending app is an abuse of Apple’s enterprise program, which allows developers to use special certificates to install more powerful apps onto iPhones. 

The app is only meant for internal use by a company’s employees, but Facebook had been distributing the tracking app to teenagers.

This is the first time Apple and Facebook have taken action against each other. Last March, Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica data sharing scandal, saying, “I wouldn’t be in this situation” if he were running the company.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later said the comments were “extremely glib” and spoke of Apple as a company that “work[s] hard to charge you more.”