Apple Shut Down All of Facebook's Internal Apps When Revoking Enterprise Certificate [Update: Fixed]


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Facebook is no longer able to use or distribute important internal iOS apps after Apple disabled the Enterprise Certificate Facebook was abusing to surreptitiously gather data from iOS users right under Apple's nose.

Since 2016, Facebook has been paying teens and adults $20 per month to install a data gathering "Facebook Research" app that harvested all kinds of sensitive details from participants.

Facebook abused its enterprise certificate to get customers to install a "Facebook Research app​

Apple had already banned Facebook's attempts to gather data through the Onavo VPN app, so Facebook used its enterprise certificate - provided to companies to install and manage internal apps for employees - to get participants to sideload the Facebook Research app, bypassing the App Store and Apple's oversight.

Facebook yesterday said that it was not violating Apple's enterprise rules, but as it turns out, Facebook was wrong. Apple this morning revoked Facebook's enterprise and said the social network had clearly violated the Enterprise Developer Program.
We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization. Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. 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.
Facebook's revoked certificate wasn't just used for the Facebook Research app. According to The Verge, Facebook needed that certificate to run all of its internal apps, and with access revoked, none of those apps are working.

That means Facebook isn't able to distribute internal iOS apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger for testing purposes, and internal employee apps for purposes like food and transportation are nonfunctional.

All of the apps that used the certificate "simply don't launch on employees' phones anymore," and Facebook is said to be treating the issue as a critical problem internally.

After the certificate was revoked, Facebook this morning said that it would shut down its Facebook Research app, though the company defended it and claimed that those who participated went through a "clear on-boarding process." The Facebook Research app for Android continues to be available.

Facebook is not going to be able to properly operate and distribute iOS apps on a wide scale basis without access to its certificate, so it's not clear how this situation will play out. Apple's tools are essential for internal apps, though Facebook will likely still be able to use alternatives like TestFlight if the certificate isn't reinstated.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been highly critical of Facebook's lack of respect for user privacy in the past, and the two companies have had a dispute over the Onavo app, but this is the first time that Apple has directly punished Facebook and shut down one of its illicit activities.

Update: Facebook says it is "working closely" with Apple to reinstate access to internal apps. Employees, meanwhile, are said to be angry and unable to do their work without the apps.

Update 2: In a statement to The New York Times, Facebook says that Apple has restored its Enterprise Certificate. "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."

Article Link: Apple Shut Down All of Facebook's Internal Apps When Revoking Enterprise Certificate [Update: Fixed]


macrumors 601
Dec 9, 2008
Seems a tad harsh. All they did was circumvent Apple's privacy guidelines… and harvest data for uninformed users at a fraction of the price it ought to be worth… to bolster their efforts to make Facebook and even more overpowered weapon of social intrusion.

Can't help but wonder how poor Mark took the news…

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macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
Explicitly spying on children. Is Zuck ever going to be held to account? Fines do nothing. Given the crystal clear picture of the criminal operation that Facebook is this guy should be in ****ing jail.

Tim too, for the tax evasion BS that is somehow “legal” (we really need to do something internationally about tax shelters/avoidance), but does it get any creepier and morally wrong than literally spying on children?

America’s beloved Oligarchs ladies and gentlemen...


macrumors 65832
Jul 6, 2012
Amazing how brazen Facebook is - truly a company run by scumbags making the decisions.

The thing is - the more they cheat, lie and betray their users trust - the more money they make and this is why they show no indication of slowing down (and also why Google appears to be getting worse over the last couple of years as well under their newer leadership) - doing this equals growth for the business. Its a fundamental problem with their business model.


macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
Facebook's lack of respect ... give me a break … Apple ain't no saint.
There's some grey area between being a saint and spying on children to mine their personal data.

Apple faltering in some areas doesn't make Facebook's actions any less abhorrent. Likewise it shouldn't put Apple in the same group as Facebook simply on the criteria that "nobody's perfect".
Jul 4, 2015
Delete Facebook
Awesome. Delete and ban all their **** entirely. We can build anew. It’s not hard.

FB had their chance. They could have kept their apps to the original purpose. They decided to abuse data, abuse democracy, give untold power to extreme voices, and are still right now today allowing political advertizing that is stoking divisions and not showing the true source of the funding. One person who worked for them said they are intentionally selling data to rogue regimes to oppress and kill citizens.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 7, 2007
So people with Facebook App to use FB can not launch it or just won't update? I don't use it, I'm just curious.
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