Facebook has confirmed it is shutting down is Onavo VPN service, reports TechCrunch. The app was billed by Facebook as a free VPN app that allowed iPhone and Android users to keep their online activity hidden from ISPs and app developers–just as other VPN apps do. But because Onavo ran a user’s web activity through Facebook’s servers, the social media giant was able to track almost everything a user did online.
And, boy, did Facebook take advantage of this. Not only did Facebook use Onavo to data mine the heck out of its users, Onavo is credited with allowing Facebook to see how popular WhatsApp was becoming and thus deciding to buy it.
Facebook’s shady Onavo VPN app first started receiving a lot of press attention last August when Apple forced Facebook to pull the app from the App Store because it was gathering too much information about iPhone users and their activity. However, until now, Onavo was still available on Android devices.
Well, that’s no longer the case. As of today, Facebook has pulled the Onavo app from the Google Play store. Android users who already have downloaded the app and who for some reason still want to use Onavo can continue to use the app until Facebook pulls the plug on the service, which should happen shortly.
As for the reason for Onavo’s shutdown, Facebook says the company is moving away from unpaid market research. Going forward, Facebook will also use paid market research to gather data about users. Then again, Facebook’s paid market research methods up until now haven’t been that much less shady than Onavo.