Reasons Behind Facebook Removing Onavo From App Store


In an exciting development, Facebook removed Onavo Protect from iOS App Store after Apple declared that the app was violating the App Store’s guidelines on data collection.

It is important to mention here that Onavo Protect is a VPN service which was acquired from an Israeli Analytics Start-up in 2013 by Facebook. While a reliable VPN helps to keep your identity and internet activities safe, it appears that Onavo Protect was designed for completely different purposes. Apparently, the VPN app was used to collect users’ information in order to analyze how they interact with other social media platforms.

This was the reason that this so-called VPN has dominated the headlines and sparked a lot of controversies in recent months.

Onavo Violated Apple’s App Store Rules on Data Collection

Although Facebook removed Onavo from the App Store, the app is still available on Google Play, it has more than 10 million downloads to date.

The app, however, stated its motives pretty clear in the description by stating that Onavo may collect your mobile traffic for a very good reason – to improve their VPN service by analyzing the way people use websites and apps. Further, the description reads, Facebook may use this data to improve its services and create better user experiences.

As revealed by a source close to Facebook, the social media giant uses their customers’ data to understand how iOS owners use their iOS devices outside the standard Facebook application. As such activity doesn’t go well with Apple’s data collection rules, the smartphone maker suggested Facebook remove its app voluntarily from the App Store, as revealed by the Wall Street Journal.

Onavo Protect is no longer available for Apple users, but it will stay in the Google Play Store, at least for now. However, if you have the Onavo app on your iOS device, you can still use it (if you are willing to risk your privacy), but Facebook will no longer be rolling out any further updates.

Facebook’s Privacy Issues Are Nothing New

Onavo has emerged to be another hurdle for Facebook, but still, it is a very small issue compared to the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

If you are not familiar, earlier this year it was revealed that private data of 87 million Facebook users were collected via a quiz app and used to help political campaigns in 2016. At that time many people called the accident a data breach, which it wasn’t. Cambridge Analytica – the firm responsible for this infamous scandal, was able to acquire this much data because Facebook’s terms and services allowed third-parties to collect private info from their users.

How to Select an Ideal VPN Service?

Facebook advertised Onavo Protect as a free VPN service that would help the users to keep their data safe, while in reality, the app was redirecting user’s traffic to a private server managed by Facebook.

This raised various serious concerns. A VPN is generally used by people to protect their internet identity and confidential data from prying eyes. The good reputation of VPN services allowed Onavo Protect to trick people into thinking it was another reliable VPN and track the behavior of its users even when they were using apps other than Facebook.

So, what should you keep in mind when choosing a right VPN service provider? Here are a few pointers to stick to:

  •         Find out what you can about the security protocols that your VPN supports. To expect the least, it should support L2TP/IPSec and ideally, OpenVPN.


  •         Make sure that your chosen VPN service provider has a range of servers spread in different countries of the world. It is important to keep in mind that it is not just the count of servers that matters, but their location diversity too as, for example, not all VPN providers have servers in South Africa.


  •         Also, find out in what country the company has their headquarters. For instance, a VPN service that is based in China or other restricted countries would not be able to provide transparent services, all thanks to the legal issues and government interference.


  •         Check how many simultaneous connections your chosen VPN service allows you to establish.


  •         Also, make sure that your VPN provider has a strict no-logs policy, use military-grade encryption and doesn’t throttle connections or limit your bandwidth.


Talking about Onavo, it has received more than 33 million downloads both on iOS and Android devices so far. As it seems, Facebook is likely to keep its app on the Google Play Store unless it is flagged for violating privacy terms.




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