Facebook recently unveiled a new feature in its app. Big whoop, right? Well, turns out it indeed is a big whoop, but of a negative type.
The new feature is tucked away under settings in the navigation menu titled “Protect”. Since clicking “Protect” redirects Facebook users to the “Onavo Protect – VPN Security” app in the App Store, we are assuming that the rollout is on a limited scale, means for iOS users for the time being.
Looking back at Facebook’s history, it won’t be long before a full rollout takes place on other platforms. As of now, it’s uncertain what percentage of Facebook’s user base can access the option.
Facebook acquired Onavo back in 2013, and it’s not the first time Onavo’s Protect has appeared in the Facebook app. Previously, it was seen by Facebook users in the UK in 2016.
What is Onavo Protect?
Onavo Protect is a VPN app that claims to hide user’s online identity and adds security features, making it a secure way to connect on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
— Privacy Matters (@PrivacyMatters) February 12, 2018
Why shouldn’t you use Onavo Protect?
– The Wall Street Journal
What happens to that data?
Facebook can use that data to monitor your online activities and track you even when you’re not using their application. Furthermore, Facebook can also find out how other competing apps like Snapchat and Twitter are being used.
Great example of when NOT to trust a VPN. Facebook’s VPN records all your app usage across your device and feeds that back to Facebook.
“It’s not likely that all Onavo users understand they’re actually feeding Facebook the information that allows it to take on any challenger.” https://t.co/h9GVi85N8Q
— Jon Jones (@jonjones) February 12, 2018
This gives Facebook an edge in terms of identifying new trends across the bigger mobile ecosystem. For example, Facebook gets a heads up regarding apps that are preferred by users by recording the time spent by users on that particular app. This, in turn, translates into predicting future trends and cashing in on them well ahead of the competition.
Additionally, Facebook can also see which apps are introducing new features that would perform exponentially on Facebook. Facebook can then incorporate those features into its platform and tweak it fashionably to garner more interest.
Be careful if Facebook suggests you to install the “Onavo Protect” app – it’s a VPN app that forwards ALL of your network traffic to Facebook. https://t.co/xIzGisnN5q
— Kenneth Falck (@kennu) February 13, 2018
Facebook hasn’t yet given a comment on the new addition of Onavo in its main app, nonetheless, we’ll update this post with more information as it is revealed.
Till then, it’s best to not use the Onavo Protect feature until Facebook gives a clear understanding of the feature, its abilities, and its repercussions. Don’t forget to check back and please share your opinions with other users.