Facebook is launching a data-collection campaign, collecting phone usage data in exchange for some monetary reward.

Facebook has launched a new app called “Study from Facebook.” This app is designed to help the social media company learn about people’s usage patterns, specifically what apps they have on their smartphones and how they use it. Those who opt in will be paid money for sharing their data with Facebook.

In a blog post, Facebook explained that this “research” is “important to help us improve our products for the people who use Facebook.” It will be by an “invitation-only” basis, where only those who get invited to join the data collection program will be allowed to sign up and have their phone use tracked for a certain amount of cash.

What will this app keep track of?

Since Facebook has been the subject of much controversy when it comes to privacy and user data, one can be forgiven for raising an eyebrow towards the social media giant’s latest attempt at acquiring user info.

Nevertheless, Facebook allays fears associated with the said issues by saying the the new Study app will only collect information regarding the following:

  • The apps installed on participants' phones. Study will take note of all the apps a user has on his phone, regardless if they’re being used or not;
  • The amount of time participants spend using apps. The Study app will keep track of the amount of time a user spends on certain apps. It’s unclear if time spent running in the background will be included.
  • Country, device and network type. Although the Study app will only be released to the U.S. and India at first, it will soon be rolled out to more countries. The app will record the user’s country, the device brand and model, and the type of network he uses.
  • App activity names, which can show the names of app features a participant is using. Study will also take note of the certain activity a user does with a certain app. This will probably look like “uploading a photo” with the “Instagram” app, for example

Facebook promised that it won't collect user IDs, passwords or content people share, including messages. It also promised that it won't sell data to third party companies, or use the data to target ads to users.

Sell your privacy

The Verge noted that Facebook declined to specify the amount of money it will pay for users to give their privacy up. But if an earlier controversy, reported by TechCrunch, is used as a basis, it’s likely to be about $20 per person per month.

Facebook The picture shows an illustration made with figurines set up in front of Facebook's homepage, Paris, on May 12, 2012. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images