Facebook is offering a new VPN service called Onavo Protect, purportedly as another layer of protection for mobile device users on both the Android and iOS platforms.
However, Onavo is not purely for protection purposes. The app is actually packed with powerful features that include secure browsing when connected to a public Wi-Fi. It is also a tool with excellent monitoring capabilities, which apparently is the reason Onavo is now under the ever-widening Facebook umbrella.
It's quite obvious that the social media firm is deploying Onavo to make full use of the app's potent features. The plan it seems is to decimate the competition with great help from unsuspecting Facebook users.
What Is Onavo Protect
The basic function of Onavo is to track data usage that covers "the applications installed on your device, your use of those applications, the websites you visit and the amount of data you use." These were the disclosures provided by the app but were conveniently hidden from plain view.
As a result, most users were clueless that upon activating Onavo, they also permitted Facebook to pore over on their usage behavior. Onavo has made clear that owner of the application, Facebook, has unlimited access on all the data collected from users.
In other words, Onavo Protect is a snooping tool or a corporate spyware that masquerades as a protection app.
Onavo At Work
Since Facebook bought Onavo from an Israeli startup in 2013, the company made sure to put its acquisition to good use. The app's biggest contribution to the company's operation is to point to emerging trends in the social media sphere as delivered by the data gathered from users, which in turn serve as indicators for Facebook's next move.
The tool proved useful for the company in taking on the competition, specifically on how to match the features that rivals such as Snapchat were favored by users. In the same way, Onavo provides the snapshots of users' usual conduct while on social networking sites.
Likely, Facebook will make use of the data to package products that will best serve the site's users. However, the company's unrestricted access on users' data could also lead to compromising the latter's privacy.
In such a case, the better alternative is to go for third-party VPN services if only to deny Facebook an inside foot on users' private lives. As of posting, Onavo has attracted 33 million installs, and the majority came from Google Play.