The social media giant has pulled its Onavo VPN app from Apple’s App Store after Apple met with the company to let them know that Onavo violates new App Store rules that prevent apps from harvesting data to build advertising profiles or contact databases on users.
Facebook offered Onavo as a free VPN tool so users could browse the web in supposed anonymity from their ISP and mobile provider. However, as Onavo achieved this by routing all of a user’s digital traffic through Facebook’s servers, it enabled the company to build a massive profile on all Onavo users about their browsing habits even when they were off the Facebook app.
The Wall Street Journal says Facebook and Apple met last week to discuss Onavo, and Apple suggested that Facebook remove the app voluntarily so Apple wouldn’t have to force its removal. Facebook agreed, allowing it to save face. After the WSJ story broke, Apple provided the following statement to TechCrunch:
Apple's statement on Facebook's Onavo being removed from the App Store pic.twitter.com/pTwaiAmkcQ
— Matthew Panzarino (@panzer) August 22, 2018
Onavo is still available on the Google Play Store and likely isn’t going away there anytime soon.