Facebook shutters Onavo VPN app

Image Credit: Onavo

Facebook is removing its Onavo VPN app from the Google Play Store and ending its unpaid market research programs following backlash over how the social network paid teens to spy on them.

The company's Onavo Protect app will stop collecting user data through its virtual private network (VPN) and will eventually shut down after giving users time to find an alternative app to replace it.

Facebook will also stop recruiting new users for its Facebook Research App that is no longer available on iOS but is still operating on Android.

When Apple discovered that the company was misusing its Enterprise Certificate program, which is meant for  internal company apps only, it revoked all of the social network's certificates and broke Facebook's own apps in the process.

Onavo VPN

Facebook first acquired Onavo back in 2013 for around $200m with the aim of using its VPN app to secretly gather data about how consumers use their smartphones. 

Even before its Research App existed, this data revealed that consumers were sending twice as many WhatsApp messages than those sent from its own Messenger app which led it to purchase the company for $19bn.

Facebook then tried to convince users that Onavo was a great way to reduce data usage, block dangerous websites and protect their internet traffic from snooping while it secretly analyzed their web usage itself.

The company has now decided to remove Onavo from the Play Store before Google decides to block it while ending recruitment of new Facebook Research testers. 

Facebook has certainly made the right move in this scenario but lawmakers and regulators could still seek legal action against the company for the way in which it mishandled user data so greatly.

Via TechCrunch

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.