NEWS25 February 2019

Facebook closes VPN ‘research’ app

Data analytics Mobile News North America Privacy Technology

US – Facebook will close down a VPN app it used to gather data on usage habits for market research purposes.

Facebook on phone

The company faced backlash from the public after an investigation by TechCrunch, reported last month, found that it had paid people to install a VPN in exchange for allowing it to pull in data on their phone app usage and mobile browsing activity.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will close the Onavo VPN app and remove it from the Google Play store. 

The social media network has stopped recruiting new users for its Facebook Research app, but existing studies will continue to run. The app was removed from iOS after Apple said it breached an agreement between the companies.

Facebook will instead focus on paid market research initiatives. A spokesperson told TechCrunch: “Market research helps companies build better products for people. We are shifting our focus to reward-based market research which means we’re going to end the Onavo program.”