While the usage of VPNs is encouraged in daily life to safeguard your privacy and add an extra layer of security, it seems that the understanding of Facebook executives is a lot different. In 2013, Facebook acquired a company which makes a VPN client named Onavo Protect. The social network is now pushing the app on iOS devices to track user activity and collect data.
First spotted by TechCrunch, you can find the option as a new menu item in Facebook’s iOS apps. Clicking on it, you’ll be directed to App Store and “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” page will be opened. Don’t install it, obviously.
For those who don’t know, VPN work by encrypting your data and stopping ISPs and websites from tracking you. However, Facebook bought Ovano for the exact opposite reason. As per a report from The Wall Street Journal, the company bought the security firm to peek inside the internet using habits of users. Strikingly, the data from OVano allowed Facebook to get informed that Snapchat wasn’t growing at a faster rate–even before Snap announced its official numbers.
I don’t know how much detail or effort has been put into designing the free Ovano app, but its description gives its original purpose away:
“As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps, and data.”
It further mentions that Facebook also uses this data to “improve” its products and services. While this app is currently being pushed via Facebook iOS app, it’s also available on Android Play Store. So, do yourself a favor and stay away from it.
If you really need a VPN to cover your tracks or unblock websites, you can read our recommendations and decide accordingly.