Facebook announced this week that it will begin shutting down its controversial Onavo VPN app. The move comes in the wake of an earlier TechCrunch report that Facebook used Onavo code for research that gathered data on teen users.
There’s nothing wrong with using a VPN service; indeed, it’s a smart technology to leverage if you want to keep more of your personal data secure. However, the fact that it was Facebook’s VPN led many experts to be skeptical of it from the start. Not that Facebook was trying to hide anything; Onavo said upfront that it would collect user information, including “time you spend using apps, mobile and Wi-Fi data you use per app, the websites you visit, and your country, device and network type.”
Now, instead of offering users’ VPN security in exchange for their data, Facebook said it will focus on market research — in other words, paid programs where users fully understand that they’re giving up info in exchange for money.
The fact that Facebook was willing to shut down such a valuable market research tool is proof that public pressure can really work on the company. However, the bad news is that Facebook isn’t about to quit gobbling up our personal data anytime soon.
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