Now, Facebook will end its spyware VPN, as called Onavo VPN app. Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research app that still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after reported that how it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps.
According to the reports, Onavo billed itself as a way to “limit apps from using background data and “use a secure VPN network for your personal info” but also noted it would collect the “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”
In 2013, Facebook obtained Onavo for a reported $200 million to use its VPN app the gather data about what people were doing on their phones.
BuzzFeed’s Ryan Mac and Charlie Warzel reported data revealed WhatsApp was sending over twice as many messages per day as Messenger, convincing Facebook to pay a steep sum of $19 billion to buy WhatsApp.
Facebook stated that giving users a utility like a VPN in exchange for quietly examining their app usage and mobile browsing data isn’t a wise strategy. Instead, it will focus on paid programs where users explicitly understand what privacy they’re giving up for direct financial compensation.
A Facebook spokesperson also confirmed,
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 is now taking Onavo off the Play Store and stopping the recruitment of Research testers. Without Onavo, Facebook loses a powerful method of market research, and its future initiatives here will come at a higher price.
For a company that depends on people, it has a long way to go to get back users confidence.
Stock photo from Chinnapong