Why You Should Avoid Using Facebook’s VPN


Recently, Facebook launched a new VPN service, called Onavo Protect.

You might already know that Facebook’s huge revenues are due mostly in part to collecting (and then selling) huge amounts of user data. But maybe you think that their new VPN might be different. After all, isn’t one of the benefits of a VPN that it makes you anonymous online?

Unfortunately, this isn’t true for Facebook’s VPN. Onavo Protect collects your VPN usage logs, meaning that Facebook can see every website you visit, in addition to what service you’re using and the files you download.

It gets worse. New research shows that Facebook is also collecting your data even when the VPN is turned off, such as how much data you are using.

Below is a list of some of the information Facebook’s VPN is collecting when you use it:

  • The apps you use, and how much you use them
  • The websites you visit
  • Your iOS version
  • The name of your cellular carrier
  • Your screen status (on/off)
  • Daily cellular data usage
  • Daily WiFi data usage

If you took the time to read the fine print in the Terms of Service when you signed up for the service, you would see that Onavo explicitly states that it collects your data, which includes:

“Information about your mobile applications and data usage, including the applications installed on your device, your use of these applications, the websites you visit, and the amount of data you use.”

Also buried in Onavo’s Terms of Service is what they plan to do with this information. Which is to basically give it to whomever they want, including affiliates, service providers, law enforcement, and other entities. This includes personally identifiable information.

Why you should be concerned

Facebook is advertising Onavo as a way to “protect your personal info.” But it’s hard to take this seriously when they themselves plan to harvest all your personal information and give it away to whomever they want.

By using Facebook’s VPN, you’re giving away your personal information to a corporation which freely admits it will share your data with essentially whomever it wants.

Does that sound like a good idea to you?

Google and AnchorFree offer “free” VPNs as well

Facebook is not the only business offering “free” VPNs. Google offers one as well, as does AnchorFree. AchorFree’s VPN, Hotspot Shield, is actually being sued for not properly securing user information and selling user data to advertisers.

IP address and unique device identifiers are generally considered to be private personal information, but AnchorFree’s Privacy Policy explicitly exempts this data from its definition of personal information.

Private WiFi: Your Data is Private

Sometimes we get comments from users complaining that we are charging them for our service. This is a good reminder that it costs something to run a VPN service, and if you are getting that service for free, it’s because you (and your information) are the product that’s being sold.

As a customer of Private WiFi, you should (hopefully) know by now that we maintain no logs of user communication, and we continue to be a company that considers your privacy our top priority.

Yes, Private WiFi costs money to use. But just as there is no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as a “free” VPN.

Get Private Wifi   Protect your personal information.
Get DataCompress   Cut your mobile data usage.

Jared Howe

Jared Howe is PRIVATE WiFi’s Senior Manager, Product Marketing Communications. Working in high tech for over 15 years, Jared currently lives in Seattle with his wife, daughter, and their two cats.