Facebook Usage Over Tor Surpasses One Million Monthly Users
More than a million people are accessing Facebook through Tor, an anonymity tool used to evade surveillance.
Tor is a “dark web” – which maintains privacy and leaves no digital trail and over a million are accessing facebook through this “dark web.”
The social networking giant confirmed the news Friday after more than two years in operation. The company introduced access to Tor in October 2014, allowing users who use the service to communicate directly with Facebook’s datacenters.
According to Facebook, the growth of Tor over the past few years has been “roughly” linear, noting that some 525,000 people who accessed the service via Tor in June 2015 rose to more than one million in April this year.
Facebook was one of the first major websites to operate on the Tor network. What made the implementation more interesting was the addition of HTTPS, which added another layer of encryption, making access to the site more secure.
“This [Tor] growth is a reflection of the choices that people make to use Facebook over Tor, and the value that it provides them. We hope they will continue to provide feedback and help us keep improving,” TechCrunch quoted Facebook as saying.
Tor allows people to access the “dark web,” which are underground sites that can’t generally be accessed through the ordinary internet.
Facebook created a dedicated address for Tor access in October 2014, making it easier for users to connect via Tor and give them privacy.
Though the dark web has negative connotations for hosting black market sites, drug forums, and other illegal marketplaces, many use the Tor network to access ordinary websites but with a layer of protection to prevent prying outside eyes.
That’s not only useful to criminals, but also ordinary citizens who aren’t afforded the freedoms and protections that many Westerners have, or by journalists to communicate with sources, or by anyone who puts a premium on their privacy.
Facebook also expanded its Tor support at the start of this year by rolling out support for the Android Orbot proxy, giving Android Facebook users an easier way to use Tor. Apple’s iOS platform still does not have Tor support.
Confirming Facebook’s claim, a spokeswoman for Tor said in a statement: “When using Facebook website over Tor, Tor Browser is in charge of that data, so it is anonymous. Of course, someone may post a status update saying that they are at some restaurant, for instance, and that would de-anonymise them.”
In some regions, like China and Russia where state surveillance is rife, using Tor is one of the few ways to access Western services.
“It’s important to us to provide methods for people to use our services securely – particularly if they lack reliable methods to do so,” said Alec Muffett, a software engineer for security infrastructure at Facebook.