Facebook's OWN safety advisor admits the social media giant had a 'lax' ...

An independent child safety advisor for Facebook has spoke out against the social media giant and slammed its approach to child protection. 

The comments come just days after Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the app that spied on teenagers. 

Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute says Facebook's 'rather lax approach' was 'most concerning'.  

Reports found the only child safeguard in place for the data pillaging app the platform was a tickbox which could be selected by the teen without parental oversight. 

The 'research' app was banned by Apple after the company said the app violated its privacy and data collection rules but is still operational on Android.  

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Facebook has admitted to paying young people to install a 'social media research' app which monitors their web activity, according to reports. Apple banned the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the app store because it violated its data collection policies 

Facebook has admitted to paying young people to install a 'social media research' app which monitors their web activity, according to reports. Apple banned the app, formerly known as Onavo VPN, from the app store because it violated its data collection policies 

Tests conducted by a BBC journalist found youngsters were easily able to sign up without getting permission.  

'Facebook Atlas is a questionable programme on a number of fronts,' said Mr Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute and a member of 'Facebook's Safety Advisory Board.

'Project Atlas' was the name Facebook began to use in ads on and Instagram for the app shortly after Apple forced its removal from their store; it was formerly known as Onavo VPN.

'Most concerning is the rather lax approach to getting verifiable parental consent for the teens who participated.

Facebook told MailOnline: 'As is common across the industry, we worked with vendors who instituted their own age screening and parental consent mechanisms. 

'We are following up with all our vendors on the implementation of these.

'We reached out to the vendor in this instance, who explained that based on their initial investigation, an error was made in late 2018 that allowed participants under 18, who they normally would have blocked, to participate in the study. 

'This error has been corrected.'

The BBC's North America technology reporter Dave Lee registered himself as a fourteen-year-old boy and found that he had been able to sign up without proper parental consent, writing that for 'at least one of the vendors, consent was basically a checkbox'

The BBC's North America technology reporter Dave Lee registered himself as a fourteen-year-old boy and found that he had been able to sign up without proper parental consent, writing that for 'at least one of the vendors, consent was basically a checkbox'

'Given the tech backlash in general and the intense focus on Facebook's privacy policies, this is most unfortunate.'

The BBC's North America technology reporter Dave Lee registered himself as a fourteen-year-old boy and found that he had been able to sign up without proper parental consent.

Facebook's controversial 'research' app that snooped on the data of teenagers did not need to properly obtain full parental permission. COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the app in an interview with CNBC, saying users 'consented'

Facebook's controversial 'research' app that snooped on the data of teenagers did not need to properly obtain full parental permission. COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the app in an interview with CNBC, saying users 'consented'

He wrote on Twitter: 'Another update relating to consent. FB statement said teens had provided parental consent before using the program. I asked FB what exactly that meant - signed form, scanned? - they said the vendors handled it. For at least one of the vendors, consent was basically a checkbox.'

Facebook blamed this on a third-party company it had employed to add volunteers. 

A spokeswoman told the BBC: 'We reached out to the vendor in this instance, who explained that based on their initial investigation, an error was made in late 2018 that allowed participants under 18, who they normally would have blocked, to participate in the study.

'This error has been corrected.'

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was slammed for 'lying' after she defended the app that was 'preying' on teenagers as young as 13 by paying them to supply data and have all their phone activity monitored.

In an interview yesterday, Ms Sandberg said the teens who took part in the 'research project' had 'consented' to share the information and therefore knew what they were getting into.

Facebook has come under fire from all sides for the latest in a series of privacy disasters, with pundits describing their actions as 'shameful' and comparing the firm to a 'criminal enterprise' in light of the latest revelations.   

The company took advantage of Apple's enterprise developer certificate, which enables companies to distribute apps internally, to create an app that paid users as young as 13 to share their phone activity with Facebook. 

Among the data collected from teens by the app was all of their phone and web activity, information on apps they installed, when they used them and what they did on them. 

It raises new questions over how much Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg knew about the firm's activities. 

The pair are already facing calls from investors to resign over previous privacy breach scandals and PR disasters that have blighted the social media company since last spring. 

Ms Sandberg, in particular, has taken hits to her reputation as she continues to be the frontwoman for Facebook's excuses over its privacy shortfalls, with some questioning whether she'd take the fall and lose her job the firm.

'I want to be clear what this is. This is a Facebook research app,' MS Sandberg told CNBC. 

'It's completely opt-in. There is a rigorous consent flow and people are compensated... The important thing is that people involved in that research project knew they were involved and consented.'  

After downloading the app, it showed a warning saying downloading the app would 'allow any app from this enterprise developer' to be used on your iPhone and may allow access to your data.' But what it didn't explicitly say was that the app would collect all of their phone and website activity. In addition, it would track what apps they downloaded, when they used them and what they do on them 

After downloading the app, it showed a warning saying downloading the app would 'allow any app from this enterprise developer' to be used on your iPhone and may allow access to your data.' But what it didn't explicitly say was that the app would collect all of their phone and website activity. In addition, it would track what apps they downloaded, when they used them and what they do on them 

THE DATA FACEBOOK COLLECTED FROM TEENAGERS AS YOUNG AS 13 

Users who 'consented' to take part in the program were instructed to download a 'Research VPN' app. 

The app was previously referred to as 'Onavo VPN.' 

After downloading the app, it showed a warning saying downloading the app would 'allow any app from this enterprise developer' to be used on your iPhone and may allow access to your data.' 

But what it didn't explicitly say was that the app would collect all of their phone and website activity. 

In addition, it would track what apps they downloaded, when they used them and what they do on them.  

Ms Sandberg claims Facebook pulled the app after it 'realized we weren't in compliance with the rules on [Apple's] platform.'

However, Apple says it removed the app because it violated its data collection policies - and also banned Facebook from using any of its internal apps. 

Some have questioned whether the warnings supplied to users explicitly state what kinds of data the app would collect. 

After downloading the Research VPN app, users were shown a warning that said: 'Trusting will allow any app from this enterprise developer' to be used on your iPhone and may allow access to your data.' 

Many are viewing the debacle as the latest example of a growing 'cold war' between tech companies. 

'I find this behavior shameful. Taking advantage of people who do not understand the value of the data they generate,' Claudiu Musat, director of research for Data, Analytics and AI at Swisscom,

'Targeting kids of all people! As a parent I'm appalled. I am so happy I stopped using Facebook years ago.'

Another expert said Facebook's actions with the 'research' app were 'beyond the pale.'

'I used to think a reasonable response to Facebook was simple 'break them up',' David Heinemeir Hansson, a Danish programmer and partner of web application company Basecamp,

.

'But maybe the real solution here is more akin to 'shut them down.' Their incessant preying on kids and teenagers is beyond pale. From 5-year old 'whales' to bribing 13-year olds for spying rights.' 

SHERYL SANDBERG TRIES TO SAVE FACE AT FACEBOOK - AGAIN

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg defended the company's creepy 'research' app which paid teens as young as 13 to supply all their phone and web activity.  

Sandberg claims teens who volunteered to take part consented to have their data used, knowing full well the extent to which they'd be monitored. 

'I want to be clear what this is. This is a Facebook research app,' Sandberg told CNBC.

'It's completely opt-in. There is a rigorous consent flow and people are compensated.  

'...The important thing is that people involved in that research project knew they were involved and consented,' she added.  

Sandberg has regularly been put up to the task of saving Facebook's reputation, conducting media tours in the wake of the company's string of privacy scandals. 

However, skeptics continue to question Sandberg's excuses for Facebook's privacy shortfalls, with some of them leaving a negative impact on her own reputation. 

And, after Mark Zuckerberg blamed Sandberg for Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, many wondered whether she would keep her job at the company. 

However, Zuckerberg clarified in a recent CNN interview that he hopes that he and Sandberg can continue to 'work together for decades to come.' 

Guardian Mobile Firewall's security expert Will Strafach said the company didn't provide enough information to users about what data they

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