The VICE Channels

    Facebook Android App Update Makes It Easier to Connect Through Tor

    Written by

    Joseph Cox


    Facebook, a company based on publicly sharing details about yourself, continues to make it easier for users to maintain some privacy when they visit the site. On Tuesday, Facebook announced additional support for using the Tor anonymity network with the Android version of its app.

    “We commonly receive requests for additional platform support beyond the browser, and thanks to a project initiated by a summer intern at Facebook and subsequently picked up by our Protect and Care team in London, we are now offering experimental support for using Facebook over Tor via the Orbot proxy app for Android devices,” reads an announcement published by the company. Orbot is an Android app used for routing traffic over the Tor network.

    This update is really to do with Facebook's own Android app, however. An Orbot user can now select “Use Tor via Orbot” in the Facebook app. This will connect the user to Facebook’s Tor hidden service, masking their IP address and stopping their internet service provider from seeing when they visit the social network. This could potentially also allow users to access the site even if it is blocked in their country. As the feature is currently experimental, bugs and other issues may occur.

    Image: Facebook

    In 2014, Facebook launched a Tor hidden service, allowing users to connect without their traffic ever leaving the Tor network. The company also took the step of setting up a HTTPS certificate for the .onion to ensure visitors they were browsing the legitimate site.

    Although Facebook is a site geared around sharing personal details, users should be mindful not just of what they choose to upload, but of other information revealed by their connection to the site. Offering more flexibility in accessing the site over Tor gives them greater control.