Facebook has been paying people to install an app that allows the tech giant to collect data on how they use their smartphones.
Since 2016, the social networking giant has been paying teenagers and adults up to $20 a month plus referral fees to install the so-called "Facebook Research" app on their Apple or Android phones, according to tech news site TechCrunch.
To mask Facebook's direct involvement, the program is said to be administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest and is referred to as "Project Atlas."
A security expert told the publication that the app allows Facebook to collect data including private social media messages, photos and videos sent via instant messaging apps, emails, web searches and web browsing activities. It can also track ongoing location information from other location tracking apps installed in the user's phone, according to the report.
A Facebook spokesperson acknowledged the company is running the program to gather data on usage habits and has paid users for their participation.