Facebook has been caught downplaying how the social media giant’s research program targetted teens.

Facebook was forced to end all its market research programs and take its Onavo VPN app off the Play Store after an investigation conducted by TechCrunch found that the app was being used to collect data from teens. After the report was published, Apple reacted by immediately outing the app from its App Store.

Companies have pulled out from advertising on Facebook. Reuters.

In a response to a letter from US Senator Mark Warner, Facebook’s VP of US public policy, Kevin Martin admitted, “At the time we ended the Facebook Research App on Apple’s iOS platform, less than 5 percent of the people sharing data with us through this program were teens.”

The same publication has now found that the 5 percent figure was actually only the total number of teens still enrolled in the research program when Facebook was caught. The report goes on to state that the total number of teen participants comes to about 18 percent when you look at the entire lifespan of the program. This percentage, of course, also includes the number of people who had become inactive and uninstalled the app.

Facebook later told reporters, “All of them (teens) with signed parental consent forms.” Yet in earlier stated response to Senator Warner, Facebook admitted that “Potential participants were required to confirm that they were over 18 or provide other evidence of parental consent, though the vendors did not require a signed parental consent form for teen users.”

Yet another PR disaster on Facebook’s front.

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