How a popular app listened in to users

|| June 14, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

Welcome to another blog – this week one of the world's popular sports apps cops a fine for a privacy breach, Snapchat is back in business, and Facebook is trying the ethical approach to data collection.

Spain’s premiere soccer league hacked users’ phones.

Do you have an app that can listen in to you without letting you know?

This week, Spain’s premier soccer league, La Liga, was smacked with a 250,000-euro fine for using its mobile app to spy on millions of fans as part of a ploy to catch venues showing unlicensed broadcasts of professional matches.

Using its app, La Liga would remotely turn on the microphone functions on users’ phones to listen for the sound of a broadcast match. Utilising a similar function to song-finding app Shazam, if broadcast audio was detected, the app was then used to geo-locate that user and the establishment they were in.

Spain’s data protection agency issued the fine after discovering up to 50,000 La Liga users’ phones had been used for the purpose without any of the users being notified. However, it seems La Liga may still come out financially ahead as the ploy revealed 600 establishments using an illegal broadcast, all of which received criminal cases.

Snapchat hits back

Last month, Snapchat achieved the kind of virility most companies can only dream of. On May 8, Snapchat released a photo filter that, by rounding a users’ face and smoothing away their wrinkles, transforms them into the toddler version of themselves.

Over the next two days Snapchat debuted a pair of gender-swap filters which either gave users a square jaw and stubble to look more stereotypically masculine, or a dolled-up, soft glow to look more feminine.

The result was a torrent of user-generated content, mostly people showing the world what they’d look like if they flipped genders. Men “joked” about being attracted to the female versions of their bros, while women trolled their boyfriends with their rugged good looks.

The internet usually churns through viral ephemera in a matter of days, if not hours, but the gender-swap filters have had surprising staying power.

The filters also seemed to drive a sharp increase in the daily downloads of the Snapchat app across iOS and Android. Snapchat was downloaded across the platforms an estimated 41.5 million times worldwide in May, more than twice the number of downloads from the previous month (16.8 million) and in May of last year (17.6 million), according to third-party data.

Prior to these filters, Snapchat was only being downloaded approximately 600,000 times a day.

The filters are a much-needed victory for the embattled social media company, which has struggled to retain users over the past several years. And though the company is experiencing a tepid resurgence — users are holding steady, and revenue and stock price are all up — it remains to be seen whether Snapchat can maintain its momentum.

Facebook will pay you if you allow it to track what you do.

It’s no lie – Facebook will once again begin paying users to monitor how they use their phone through a new app called Study.

The app will monitor which apps are installed on a person’s phone, the time spent using those apps, the country you’re in, and additional app data that could reveal specific features you’re using, among other things. Facebook says it won’t see any specific content, however, including messages, passwords, and websites you visit.

The launch of the app indicates how much Facebook still feels it needs this data on how people are using their phones, and that Facebook has perhaps learned a something from its long list of controversies.

Currently the study is only available to users 18+ who use an Android device.

SPOILER ALERT - Australia’s Dundee Ad campaign has won a Logie!

Bauer Media has today announced that Tourism Australia’s ad Dundee: Australia’s Tourism Ad in Disguise, by Um and Droga5, has been voted Australia’s favourite ad and the winner of the ‘Most Popular Television Commercial’ category for the 61st Logies.

The prize includes a $100,000 marketing campaign across Bauer Network as well as four tickets to the Logies with complimentary flights and accommodation.

Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said that its Dundee ad had achieved the ultimate success of capturing the imagination of both Americans and Australians alike. Well done Dundee!

That’s it for this week, enjoy your weekend!