The so-called “deep web” became familiar to mainstream web users last fall when Silk Road, a massive online underground black market, was busted by police. The controversy surrounding the site also informed many about the secretive world of secure online software and networks. In a surprising move, Facebook announced this week that it will be directly hosted on one of the biggest such networks, Tor.
Tor is a software that allows for safe and anonymous web browsing, which is one of the reasons it’s so closely associated by many with illicit online activity. However, any web user concerned about their privacy can use the service to protect themselves, and Facebook clearly saw an opportunity to speak to those users by teaming up with the software.
“It’s important to us at Facebook to provide methods for people to use our site securely,” wrote Alec Muffett, a Facebook security engineer, in a post announcing the service.
Tor users previously had a difficult time accessing Facebook, which flagged the software’s scrambled connections and often led to lockouts. Now, Tor users can access Facebook without any hassles on Tor-enabled browsers here.
Though Tor’s user base is miniscule compared to Facebook’s 1.35-billion active members, this is exactly the kind of move Facebook needs to keep making to win back users skeptical of its privacy practices.