Privacy-conscious users rejoice: You can now use Facebook's Android app over Tor

The company has added a feature in its Android app to route its traffic over the Tor anonymity network

Facebook has added the option to route traffic from its Android mobile app over the Tor anonymity network. This will come as good news for privacy-conscious users or those living in countries where the service is censored.

Users can enable the new feature, which is still experimental, from the Facebook app's settings. However, they first need to install a separate application from Google Play called Orbot that functions as a proxy for routing traffic through Tor.

Because of how the anonymity network is designed, Facebook will not be able to push notifications back to its mobile application, so users who enable this feature will need to periodically open it themselves and check for updates manually.

Tor routes traffic through a series of random computers that participate in the network and which are known as relays or nodes. The network uses encryption and is built in such a way that no relay knows both the source and the final destination of a particular connection.

The destination is known only by the exit relays which send the traffic back onto the public Internet after it's been anonymized through Tor. The final destination of the traffic, for example a website, will see a Tor exit relay as the source, not the real user's device.

Tor can help in many cases, like when you don't want your ISP, or anyone else en route, to know that you are accessing a particular website or other type of service. It can also help when you don't want that service to know your real IP address.

The first scenario is really important to journalists, activists and other people who work or live in countries where Internet activity is being monitored and certain websites, like Facebook, are banned. Under such censorship regimes the mere attempt to access a blocked service can raise suspicion and place you on a watch list.

In October 2014, Facebook made its website available at the facebookcorewwwi.onion Tor address. This version of the website can only be accessed from within the Tor network. The traffic is no longer passed back onto the Internet to reach the facebook.com website, so Tor exit relays are removed from the process.

For now, when Tor is enabled in the Facebook mobile app, the traffic will still eventually go to Facebook's public servers on the Internet after first passing through Tor. However, the company is working so that in the future the app will connect directly with its .onion Tor service.

It might take a few days until the Tor option will appear in everyone's Facebook app, as the company will be rolling out the feature during the course of this week.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?