FACEBOOK IS TO SHUTTER its Onavo VPN app after revelations surrounding how it was being used.
Last month, it was revealed that Facebook was targeting teenagers with a 'market research' app that offered $20 per month in exchange for allowing it to intercept web traffic and hoover up the data.
Onavo, purchased by Facebook in 2013, was at the heart of the app, enabling web traffic to be redirected through Facebook servers, and now Facebook has decided that the jig is up.
The VPN app will be shut down at a later date, but will immediately cease being used as a source for data mining. Questions had been asked about why it was such a data hog long before the truth came out.
The company has also confirmed that it is no longer recruiting for Facebook Research for breaching conditions on how settings designed for developer access were being abused, though it's still currently available on Google Play.
The app not only added VPN traffic management but gave itself root permissions, meaning that Facebook had the potential to do anything to the remote user's handset it saw fit.
It hasn't given any indication that it plans to stop existing research in progress, and has indicated that it will launch new programmes that are explicit about what people are getting themselves into, more like Google Opinions Rewards.
A Facebook spokesperson said: "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."
It's generally recognised that Facebook was going out of its way to ensure the project wasn't common knowledge. Users signed Non-Disclosure agreements and were warned of consequences if they discussed the app.
Facebook Research was removed from the Apple Store, but not before the company was blocked from using internal development tools for several days, in a very real warning to the social network that up with this, Apple would not put.
The big problem for Facebook is that this is essentially an admission of guilt, even if rather a rather oblique one, and will serve as one more reminder of what sh*tty business practices it has undertaken in its quest for world domination. μ
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