Facebook has taken a bold yet appreciable voluntary step that may provide a hint to their concern towards users’ privacy. Allegedly, they have taken down their suspicious VPN app Onavo Protect from Google Play Store. There does not seem any recent compulsion behind this decision. Rather, Facebook removed Onavo Protect for Android on its own will, probably to avoid any future problems.
Facebook Removed Onavo Protect VPN App
As disclosed first by TechCrunch, Facebook planned to shut down its data collecting app Onavo Protect VPN from the Play Store. Recall that Onavo Protect is the same app that triggered Facebook to buy WhatsApp via its data analytics.
Presently, there seems no apparent reason why Facebook removed Onavo Protect from Android Play Store. Nonetheless, if we recall the recurrent chaos associated with Facebook, one can understand why they did it.
In March 2018, Facebook’s VPN app Onavo Protect was found actively involved in data exfiltration. Later, in August 2018, Apple removed this app from the Play Store as it clashed with Apple’s policies regarding user privacy.
However, Facebook repurposed the code of Onavo Protect to back their Facebook Research app that even existed on the App Store. Since Facebook abused Apple’s Developer Enterprise Program to reach iOS users, Apple eventually revoked Facebook’s certificate. Although Apple restored Facebook’s certificate later, the Facebook Research app no longer existed on the App Store.
Nonetheless, throughout this situation, Facebook effortlessly continued their activities on Android via its App Store. But, it seems Facebook now plans to avoid any further mess in the future and win a credible stance among the public. That’s why they have now pulled-off Onavo Protect VPN from Google’s Play Store.
A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed these changes in his statement.
“Market research helps companies build better products for people. We are shifting our focus to reward-based market research which means we’re going to end the Onavo program.”
Facebook Also Stops Recruiting Facebook Research Testers
In addition to the shut down of Onavo Protect, Facebook also decides not to recruit Facebook Research testers anymore. That may be a setback for the firm since everyone knows how eager Facebook remains for collecting user data. Yet, Facebook may likely attempt to win over the public’s trust with regards to their privacy policies.
Only time will tell whether Facebook has genuinely changed its perspective towards user privacy, or they are just planning to come up with an alternative strategy to continue their undesirable activities.