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Facebook pulling off Onavo VPN app from Google Play Store: Report

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IANS  |  San Francisco 

Following the scandalous revelation where Facebook was found to have been collecting data from teenagers using the "Facebook Research" app, the social networking giant is now reportedly ending its unpaid market research programmes and taking its Onavo virtual private network (VPN) app off the Google Play Store.

Onavo was acquired by Facebook in 2013 for a reported $200 million to use its VPN app to gather data about what people were doing on their phones.

"Facebook has decided that giving users a utility like a VPN in exchange for quietly examining their app usage and mobile browsing data isn't a wise strategy. Instead, it will focus on paid programmes where users explicitly understand what privacy they're giving up for direct financial compensation," TechCrunch reported on Saturday.

Last year, due to privacy concerns, Apple forced Facebook to remove the Onavo VPN app from the App Store.

"But Facebook quietly repurposed Onavo code for use in its Facebook Research app that was found paying users in the US and India aged 13 to 35 up to $20 in gift cards per month to give it VPN and root network access to spy on all their mobile data," the report added.

Not only the social networking giant is taking Onavo off the Play Store, it is also stopping recruitment of "Research" app testers.

"The company has repeatedly misread how users would react to its product launches and privacy invasions, leading to an unending news cycle chronicling its blunders. Without Onavo, Facebook loses a powerful method of market research, and its future initiatives here will come at a higher price," the report noted.

That analytics collected by Onavo VPN app prompted Facebook to purchase WhatsApp for which the company paid $19 billion in February 2014.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sat, February 23 2019. 12:30 IST
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