Facebook suggests its own VPN for you to browse “safely” while saving your browsing data

Facebook is testing suggesting that its users download a VPN with which to obtain your browsing data. This is Onavo Protect, an application that the social network bought in 2013, and that they have now confirmed that they are beginning to suggest it to their users in the United States as an extra layer of security.

Facebook advertises the download of this app in its security section as a method to warn you when you enter dangerous pages or to protect your privacy on public WiFis. However, the problem is in the fine print, and it is that in it they warn that, to carry out these tasks, “Onavo collects your mobile data traffic”.

Although the move is very striking because it is Facebook, it is not the first time that doubts have been raised about the intentions of free VPNs. We have already told you in their day some of the problems that these services usually cause, which in exchange for offering you a free layer of protection usually compensate the cost that this entails by showing you advertising or with other more murky matters.

One of the most controversial examples is that of the VPN Hola scandal, which they hunted selling your users’ bandwidth to third parties and mounting botnets to carry out attacks using them. To this day it is still a little recommended service, but the fact that it is free means that it is still quite popular.

Only in the United States at the moment

Facebook has confirmed that it is indeed trying to include a link to this service within its main application, although explaining that at the moment they are only doing it in the United States. It also explains that the test is only running on iOS devices.

It is not the first time that Facebook has tried showing Onavo in its application since it bought it, so it is not clear if this is a one-time test or if your idea is, as you have done on other occasions, to start implementing this function in a specific country and gradually expand it.

In any of the cases, we will be attentive to see how the data is evolving and if Facebook takes further steps in this regard. If so, we would tell you about it right away.

Facebook and its relationship with VPNs

VPNs are often used to encrypt users’ browsing data and prevent ISPs or the websites you visit from knowing where you are browsing. However, right from the beginning, when Facebook bought Ovano in 2013 it did so with a very different intention, that of obtain information about browsing habits of its users.

This data can be very important for companies like Zuckerberg’s, since it can give them clues about what other apps we use, how often and also demographic details. They also get information about how we use their own products and services, which can help them improve them.

The problem here is that Facebook is not entirely clear, since the explanation of what you are going to do with the data is left in the fine print. In fact, by advertising the app as a protection method in your main application, there will be many users concerned about its security who end up installing it with blind trust, and without stopping to read all the information.

Another problem is that it has been previously discovered that Facebook used the data of users of this service in the past for its own analysis. This, according to the former CTO of the Federal Trade Commission of the United States at the time, was to use this data in ways that directly attack the interests of users, such as “preventing competitive innovation.”

Facebook’s reasons behind the move

When it came to light last year that they had been using their users’ data, they apologized saying that Onavo makes it very clear how the information is used that it collects, and that “both web pages and applications have been using market research services for years.”

However, this time they want to sell the movement with a different objective. In the statement in which they made up the inclusion of Onavo, he assured that the data obtained would be used to help improve the service itself helping the users themselves with it, although again they fell on which others also do the same.

“Like other VPNs, Onavo acts as a secure connection to protect people from potentially harmful sites,” they say from Facebook. “The app can collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognize the tactics used by bad actors. Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others. We let people know about this activity and about other ways that Onavo uses and analyzes the data before it is downloaded. “

With this, what Facebook promises is that the browsing data they obtain will be used to detect possible malicious pages and the techniques of those who want to take advantage of you on the network. But of course, being an official statement it is logical that try to sell you only the positive part, so there are still doubts that they will just do this.

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