Those certificates are intended for employee-only apps, and developers who want to run public betas on iOS are supposed to use Apple's TestFlight program. The news comes after Apple already banned Facebook's data-harvesting Onavo VPN app from its app store in June of previous year.
Facebook did not immediately respond to further requests for comment.
Eagle-eyed researchers spotted that the Facebook Research app bore striking similarities with the controversial Onavo Protect App, which Apple banned from the App Store in August previous year. "Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data", the company said in a statement.
The spokesperson also made it clear that the program was not in violation of any of Apple's App Store policies, though there is evidence pointing to the actions being contradictory to Apple's Enterprise Certificate Policy.
Some lawmakers sharply rebuked Facebook on Wednesday in response to the reports about its data-tracking app. "Wiretapping teens is not research, and it should never be permissible", Democratic Sen.
Project Atlas could give Facebook almost unfettered access to information only available to a select number of app developers, Guardian Mobile Firewall's security expert Will Strafach told reporters. Otherwise, Apple wants apps to only be available through its App Store. The sign-up page for the Facebook Research program administered by Applause doesn't mention Facebook, but seeks users "Age: 13-35 (parental consent required for ages 13-17)", writes TechCrunch. And Apple's move Wednesday restricts Facebook's ability to test those apps - including core apps such as Facebook and Instagram - before they are released through the app store.
"We can't aspire for good press while continuing to not play by the rules", another employee wrote in an internal discussion on the company's Workplace app.
On the heels of a report outlining ways Facebook Inc.is collecting data, Apple Inc. revoked a key set of testing tools that the social networking giant uses to ensure its apps are ready for use on the iPhone and iPad.
Privacy concerns aren't the only things in common between Facebook and Google - TechCrunch recently reported that Google also has an iOS app used to collected user data.
The social network acquired Onavo in 2013 but removed it from the App Store past year after Apple updated its rules on data collection. Facebook's Onavo VPN app was secretly spying on users and gathering private information while officially its goal was to minimize mobile data usage.
What makes all this worse is that Facebook has time and again proven itself cavalier about protecting data. The Cupertino company deleted data-sniffing app Onavo after finding how it blatantly breached Apple's privacy policies. But BuzzFeed News reporter Ryan Mac tried signing up after the TechCrunch report was published, and found very few disclosures to participants that Facebook was behind it.
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