Months after removing its VPN app Onavo Protect from App Store, Facebook has now removed it from Google Play as well. The development comes in the wake of the backlash over Facebook Research app, which was found paying teens and adults to track pretty much all of their online activities. Facebook has been embroiled in one or the other data and privacy scandals over the past one year and it seem the social media giant is now actively looking to regain public's trust by stopping data collection activities.
According to TechCrunch, which was the first to report about the impending demise of Onavo Protect Android version, the VPN app will continue to function for the existing users for the time being to give them a chance to find a replacement application. Gadgets 360 has confirmed that Onavo Protect is no longer listed in Google Play Store and accessing the old listing link throws up a "the requested URL was not found on this server" error.
TechCrunch writes that the Menlo Park, California-based company has also stopped recruiting new users for the Facebook Research app that is still available on Android but was stopped being marketed to the iOS users after Apple banned it and revoked Facebook's Enterprise Certificate. The certificate was restored later.
Facebook is now said to be focusing on paid market research programs, where the participants will know exactly what kind of data they are sharing with the company.
“Market research helps companies build better products for people. We are shifting our focus to reward-based market research which means we're going to end the Onavo programme,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch.
To recall, Facebook had acquired Israel-based Onavo back in October 2013 for a reported $150-$200 million (roughly Rs. 1,067-Rs. 1,423 crores). The social giant reportedly saw the app as the gold mine for user data and in fact the company used to data to determine WhatsApp as a potential acquisition target. But last year, over privacy concerns Facebook was forced to remove the Onavo Protect from App Store, while it continued to be available in Google Play Store.