Facebook has stated they are shutting down its controversial Onavo app following reports of the same being used to spy on its users. Ironically, Facebook promoted the app as one that has been designed to limit background data usage while also offering a secure VPN network for your personal info.
The social networking company has stated they will, however, continue with such research programs though that would be only after making the users explicitly aware of what they are being led on to. Till that happens, the Onavo app is being pulled from the Android store.
That said, those who have the app already installed on their phones will get to use the app until it remains functional. Facebook said that wouldn’t be for too long but stopped short of offering a fixed timeline for killing the app. Facebook meanwhile also confirmed its unpaid research program would come to an end though similar research that pays the users will continue to be operational.
The Onavo app was being used by Facebook to gather such data as the time users would spend on a particular app, what app the users preferred for a particular task, the images or videos they shared or even the stuff they ordered via Amazon. Such info is also believed to have provided the impetus for the company to go on and acquire WhatsApp, the popular messaging platform that otherwise was shaping out to be a huge competitor for its own Messenger app.
In any case, this isn’t the first time Facebook has been found on the wrong foot when it comes to upholding user’s privacy. Not surprisingly, the Onavo app was banned from the Apple App Store last year itself after it was found to be violating the company’s privacy guidelines.
Not to be undone, Facebook embarked on a similar program with the Facebook Research app which also paid users a monthly $20 in exchange for letting the company to have a ring side view of everything that took place on the phone. While that too has been removed from the Apple App Store, the Facebook Research app continues to be functional on the Android Play Store. The only difference here is that it won’t be available to any new users henceforth.