Facebook is Tracking You With Free VPNs
Facebook is taking tracking to another level.
Facebook is taking tracking to another level. It’s been revealed that Facebook is now using VPN services like Onavo Protect to track your data, even when you’re not using the Facebook platform.
Facebook is notoriously adept at tracking Facebook user data. Typically, Facebook tracks data to provide better targeted to their users and provide more tools for advertisers using Facebook as a marketing platform. Whilst most advertising happens within Facebook and Instagram, Facebook are now pushing their boundaries to find new ways to track data from their users.
It’s now been confirmed that Facebook are using the Onavo Protect VPN service to track user data even when those users aren’t using Facebook. This allows Facebook to gather more browser data and collect more information to sell on to advertisers.
Whilst Facebook aren’t providing any threat to Onavo Protect users, they’re still tracking data through a platform where most users are under the assumption that their privacy is protected. The data they’re tracking actually goes further than their typically data tracking, too.
Facebook are using Onavo Protect to learn how often users are opening competitor’s apps. For example, Facebook can use Onavo Protect users to understand how often users are opening Snapchat, or how often they visit a certain web page.
Most people pick up a VPN to protect their online browsing habits and to mask their address, but with Onavo Protect, users are sending their data straight through to Facebook before it’s being rerouted elsewhere.
This once again proves that if a service is for free, you are usually the product. In this case, the data Onavo Protect can provide Facebook allows them to understand their competitors further so that they can provide competing service on their own platforms.
There’s potentially no limit to what data the Onavo Protect app can gather from it’s users. Whilst we know it’s collecting data on app and web browser usage, there’s nothing stopping it from using SMS tracking, email tracking, or IM tracking to learn more about how smartphone owners use their device. We’re speculating at this point, but it’s scary to think that Facebook has so much power over any users that use the Onavo Protect app.
Facebook can also share the data they share with third parties. As mentioned earlier in the article, it’s likely all data that can be used for Facebook’s ad platform is certainly used when possible.
It’s also shocking to think that Onavo Protect tricks users into thinking they are getting enhanced privacy when in reality they are handing away their privacy completely.
For example, on the Google Play Store listing for Onavo Protect, it mentions that the app can provid users with a “Free, fast and secure VPN to protect personal information.”
The Google Play Store description for Onavo Protect also states that the app can !Add an extra layer of security and data encryption.”
These claims are completely false. Users should be aware of VPN services in the future and should especially be careful of services that claim to offer free privacy and encryption services.