UPDATE: (1:30PM, 1 February 2019): Facebook’s enterprise certs has since been restored, alongside functionality of its internal apps
ORIGINAL STORY (3:35PM, 31 January 2019):
In response to Facebook’s “research” app, Apple has shuttered Facebook’s internal iOS apps. This includes a surprisingly wide range of apps used by Facebook’s internal staff. According to The Verge, this includes early and beta versions of apps as well as other internal tools like transportation and lunch menus.
More specifically, Apple has revoked Facebook’s enterprise certificates which allows the latter to distribute apps to employees without needing Apple’s approval. The revoking of these certs means two things to the internal apps; they can no longer be downloaded, and they can no longer be used even if downloaded prior to the cert revocation.
Considering Facebook distributed its research app (shown above) to consumers without having to go through Apple’s App Store, this points to an abuse of said enterprise certificates. As such, it’s not surprising to see Apple revoking said certs in response. This is confirmed by an Apple PR representative in a statement to Recode:
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.
A Facebook spokesperson also confirmed to The Verge that Apple’s move has affected its internal apps. This has reportedly lead to the company treating this as a critical problem.
It’s not clear to what extent do Facebook employees rely on these internal apps, or even the number of internal apps in existence. All that is certain now is that they are all rendered inoperable thanks to a single one that went to consumers, for “research” purposes.