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Facebook pulls Onavo VPN app

(Image credit: Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora)

Facebook is changing its data gathering strategy to be more transparent and more upfront about what it's doing and for what reasons.

This is according to TechCrunch (opens in new tab), which found that Facebook's shady Onavo VPN app is getting pulled, its Facebook Research app is no longer accepting new users, and that the company will, from now on, let people know exactly what they're being paid for.

Late last month, the media uncovered that Facebook was, almost secretly, distributing a VPN app called Facebook Research, which was based on the Onavo app. It was being distributed through beta testing services like Betabound and Applause.

Users (mostly teens, but older people, up to 35 years of age, too) were being paid $20 a month to use it, not knowing that Facebook was gathering a ton of data on them, through the use of the app.

It appears that the data Facebook collected included private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps – including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information.

Now, after public outcry, Facebook is taking Onavo off the Play Store, and will no longer accept people for the Research app. TechCrunch believes that without Onavo, Facebook will be lacking a 'powerful method of market research'.

Image Credit: Anthony Spadafora

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.