Facebook pushes security app (that it owns) that tracks users' mobile usage

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In what can only be described as a laughable irony, Facebook's VPN app collects and tracks users' data about their online habits.

In case you haven't noticed, the Facebook mobile app now has an option in its menu called "Protect".

The option is now found only in the iOS version of Facebook app, which suggests that the feature is more of a test than a full rollout.

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"We recently began letting people in the USA access Onavo Protect from the Facebook app on their iOS devices", Erez Naveh, Product Manager at Onavo told TechCrunch via email. The app may collect your mobile data traffic to help us recognize tactics that bad actors use.

While the VPN app is created to give users "peace of mind" and "an added layer of security" by routing your web browsing through its servers, the company also analyzes and collects users data to improve its services as well as Facebook's products and services. On the app store, Onavo's description reveals it is "a part of Facebook", and that it can be used to "improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and service people value, and build better experiences" - similar to the policy Facebook has in place for its other platforms. This is because Facebook had acquired Onavo back in 2013, meaning that any data Onavo has basically belongs to Facebook.

Thankfully, it's not activated by default and requires you to navigate to the Protect tab in the app's settings, and then install the app yourself. "For example, Facebook gets an early heads up about apps that are becoming breakout hits; it can tell which are seeing slowing user growth; it sees which apps' new features appear to be resonating with their users, and much more".

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'This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analysing your use of websites, apps and data.

Facebook could use that information to track what users do online, even when they're not on one of its websites, according to CNBC. But Facebook can see a lot-if that app doesn't encrypt its own traffic, in fact, they can see almost everything you do in that app.

'Over time, this helps the tool work better for you and others. "We let people know about this activity and other ways that Onavo uses and analyses data before they download it". It monitors users' data and send it back to Facebook, as instructed. The app is actually packed with powerful features that include secure browsing when connected to a public Wi-Fi.

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