Technology 2 mins read

Facebook’s Onavo Protect VPN Exposed to be Harvesting User’s Data

What would you do if you found out that your VPN data was being used to serve ads and create social app strategies? That's exactly why Facebook has decided to pull its VPN Onavo Protect from the Apple Store. Why are they not pulling it from the Google Play store then?

Facebook have chosen to remove their VPN app from the APple store due to it harvesting user's data, a practice inhibited by Apple's terms and conditions. | Image via Alex Ruhl | Shutterstock

Facebook have chosen to remove their VPN app from the APple store due to it harvesting user's data, a practice inhibited by Apple's terms and conditions. | Image via Alex Ruhl | Shutterstock

This article details news about Facebook operated VPN Onavo Protect and user privacy concerns.

VPNs, or virtual private networks, should protect your data and privacy. After all, their main function is to create a private network on top of a public internet network.

While VPNs remain susceptible to hackers like regular Wi-Fi networks, they do provide an added layer of security for those concerned about their data.

As a result of new iOS regulations, Facebook decided to stop updating its own VPN app Onavo Protect. It turns out, ironically enough, that the app collected data, violating the Apple store’s guidelines on data collection.

How did Facebook handle its latest technological faux pas?

Onavo Protect for Apple devices — now pulled by Facebook | Apple Insider

Facebook Used its VPN as a Data Collection Tool

Though only acquired in 2013 by the social media giant, Onavo Protect quickly became yet another tool in Facebook’s arsenal in gathering information about users.

Facebook used the data to survey how smartphone users utilized smartphone elements outside of its main apps. Then, they incorporated this data into their future Facebook Live video strategies and how they compete with other social apps.

A Facebook spokesperson gave a statement to The Verge about the situation.

“We’ve always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used. As a developer on Apple’s platform, we follow the rules they’ve put in place.”

However, Facebook made the decision to pull the app — not Apple.

The Onavo Protect violation involved how the app makers (Facebook) use data gathered that doesn’t coincide with the core function of the app or software.

Since Onavo Protect serves as a VPN, Facebook using it for analytics and social strategies violates iOS terms. Curiously, Google Play will still carry the Android app.

If you’d like to get a VPN that won’t compromise your data, check out these five.

What other Facebook or Facebook acquire apps may be pulled as a result of the new iOS terms?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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