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Facebook shutting down Onavo, the trojan horse it used to suck people’s data including teens

by Felix Omondi
Facebook Onavo

The Facebook-owned Onavo VPN app is to be pulled off the Google Play Store. This comes following the backlash against the social media giant following a TechCrunch investigation that revealed the app was nothing more than a funnel Facebook uses to harvest data from people including teens.

Onavo was an unpaid app purporting to be a VPN, and just like we feature in this article here. The VPN was not the answer to your prayers; if you were praying for a free VPN app. The app was Facebook’s funnel for conducting research on the market.

Following the unveiling of the hidden real motive behind the app. Facebook now plans to shut down immediately all activities of pulling users’ personal data and work (in the short-term) as a VPN. During that short time, users are expected to be looking for (and making the switch to) a replacement VPN app.

The social network also ceased all recruitment of new users for the Research app that still runs on Android but was kicked off the App Store. Apple moved fast to shut down the app on iOS after it discovered it was violating its Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps.

Facebook bought Onavo in 2013 for a reported $200 million in order to use the VPN app to gather users’ data on their phones. After acquisition by Facebook, Onavo described itself as a VPN app for limiting “apps from using background data,” and using “a secure VPN network for your personal info.”

The app further noted that it will collect the “time you spend using apps, mobile, and Wi-Fi data you use per app, the website you visit, and your country, device, and network type.”

A spokesperson from Facebook confirmed the social network is indeed changing Onavo from a Research app to simply providing (just) VPN services in the short run: “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.”

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