Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Getty)
  • Facebook announced Monday the introduction of Viewpoints, a market research app that rewards users for participating in surveys and research – though only in America for the time being.
  • Facebook says it will use the information to improve its own suite of products, which includes Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The first survey pays a reward worth $5 (around R70).
  • Facebook has faced numerous concerns over the way it handles user data, and was most recently hit with a $5 billion fine by the US Federal Trade Commission.
  • But the company says that privacy will be a priority for the new app. While it asks for information like your birthday, gender, and location, Facebook says that it won't sell Viewpoints data to other companies, nor will it share Viewpoints activity on any Facebook-linked accounts without the user's permission.
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Facebook wants to know more about you – though for now only if you are American.

The company is launching Facebook Viewpoints, a mobile app focused on market research that rewards users for responding to its surveys, it said in a blog post.

The app hosts several surveys, with users receiving points as a reward for completion. After a certain number of points is collected, Facebook says it will remit money directly into the user's PayPal account. The data it collects will go towards improving Facebook's services, which include Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook said the first survey on the Viewpoints app studies the effects of social media on well-being. While Business Insider was unable to access the Viewpoints app, a screenshot shared by Facebook shows that the 15-minute survey lets users earn 1000 points, worth $5 (around R70) in real money.

"Information from this survey will help us build better products that aim to limit the negative impacts of social media and enhance the benefits," a post on the company website said.

The company said that Viewpoints is currently only open in the US, to anyone above the age of 18 with a Facebook account. It said that it aimed to expand to more countries next year, though it did not say which countries.

Transparency appears to be a priority for the new app: before participating in any survey offered by the Viewpoints app, users are given an overview of the information the survey will collect, how it will be used, and how many points they will receive for completing each program.

Facebook also says it will not sell information from this app to third parties, nor will it publicly share that information on Facebook or any linked accounts without permission. And users can end their participation in the program at any time, the company promises.

The first survey on Facebook Viewpoints offers a $5 reward.
Facebook

This focus on the privacy aspect of the program may be in response to the company's slew of data-privacy mishaps. The company has often been criticised for mishandling of the vast amounts of data it collects, and has been mired in scandals ranging from misappropriating user data to its roles in spreading hate speech over the past two years.

Most recently, Facebook was hit with a $5 billion fine by the US Federal Trade Commission in July, along with a sweeping set of new restrictions. But privacy advocates criticised the ruling, and said the measures did little to meaningfully change the way Facebook collects and monetises user information.

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