Facebook Pulls Out Onavo and Research Apps from Google Play Store

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 31, 2021

Following last month’s violation of Apple’s policies by the Facebook Research app that resulted in its retraction, the time for the same to happen on the Google Play Store has come. Both the Onavo and Research apps have already been removed and are no longer available for new users on the Android platform. Those who have the Onavo app installed on their devices will be given a short grace period until they find another VPN solution. Similarly, existing studies on the Research app will go on until they reach the finish line, but no new ones what will take place after that.

The voluntary withdrawal of the two apps is the direct result of the strong public backlash against the shady practices that Facebook implemented on the “Research” functionality. More specifically, they were pushing updates from outside the App Store, collected usage data at all times, and targeting teen demographics in exchange of payment for their participation in studies. These studies have played a pivotal role in Facebook’s steady march to market domination, helping them make highly-targeted acquisitions of companies that had the best potential. All of it is now coming to an end, as stricter regulations are wrapping around data brokers with tightening pressure, and such practices are penalized with hefty fines.

That doesn’t mean that Facebook is abandoning the very essence of its own existence, but rather that it will turn to other, more expensive and less efficient methods, possibly transitioning to the sphere of the indirect collection of the precious data. The chances of launching yet another secret program and keep it running until its uncloaking are also high. Besides, the Research app was found to contain much of the criticized code of Onavo, with the former being developed and launched for iOS after the latter was removed from the store by Apple. Hopefully, and for the better of teens who are willing to trade their privacy for pocket money, Facebook will follow a much more transparent approach on their upcoming market research programs.

Have you used Onavo or Research on Android? What can you share about your experience? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t forget to join the community discussion on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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