On Thursday, Apple restored Facebook’s access to an enterprise certificate that enables internal testing of apps. Apple revoked Facebook’s access on Tuesday after determining that Facebook had violated Apple’s policies about who can access apps developed using the certificate.
A Facebook spokesperson emailed the following statement to VentureBeat: “we have had our Enterprise Certification, which enables our internal employee applications, restored. We are in the process of getting our internal apps up and running. To be clear, this didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services.”
The issue arose when TechCrunch reported that Facebook was paying users between the ages of 13 and 35 up to $20 per month to use a “Facebook Research app” that monitored their browsing history, phone and messaging activity, and which apps they were downloading. The app was similar to Facebook’s Onavo Protect, which Apple kicked out of the App Store earlier in the summer. Facebook got around that by creating the Facebook Research app through the enterprise certificate Apple had granted them. That certificate is supposed to be only for apps that are used by a company’s employees or contractors.
By distributing the app to consumers, Apple said Facebook had violated its policies. Facebook tried to get ahead of the problem by saying it was proactively pulling the Facebook Research app, but Apple still decided to revoke Facebook’s access to the certificate.
Without the enterprise certificate, Facebook couldn’t test new internal iOS versions of its apps and couldn’t use employee-only apps like one that Facebook developed for employees to view campus bus schedules. As Facebook said, none of the public-facing versions of Facebook’s family of apps, including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, were affected.
Google also had its enterprise certificate briefly revoked after TechCrunch found one of its research apps similarly violated Apple’s policies. But, as of Thursday afternoon, Google said it was working with Apple to remedy the situation and expected to have access restored soon.