Tor (The Onion Router) has long been the go-to browser for people looking to protect their privacy when accessing various online destinations, and more and more people are using it to access Facebook.
According to the social network, more than 1 million people are currently using Tor to access Facebook, although only around 525,000 people did so in June 2015. What this means is that all these people are either using the Tor browser to access www.facebook.com or the Facebook Onion site, or they are using Orbot on Android.
The Facebook Onion site was announced in October 2014, accessible at https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/, but only via Tor-enabled browsers. Additionally, the Internet giant launched an .onion mobile site, and implemented Tor connectivity for it Android mobile app by enabling connections through Orbot.
People are already using Tor for a variety of reasons related to privacy, security and safety, and Facebook wants to make sure that they can also access its service securely. The growing number of people that access Facebook using the privacy network instead of a normal browser shows that the security option is welcomed.
Alec Muffett, Software Engineer for Security Infrastructure at Facebook in London, explains that the number of people using Tor to access Facebook has grown – roughly linearly. “This 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,” Muffett says.
Historically, Facebook has shown a focus not only on the privacy and security of its users, but also on ensuring that as many people as possible can access its platform. While the social platform can’t offer details on what pushes users to access Facebook anonymously, reasons are plenty, starting with freedom of speech, especially in conflict areas around the world, where oppressive regimes are banning the use of social networks.
In October 2015, Facebook began notifying users on suspected account compromise from state-sponsored attacks. In December, the company pledged support for keeping the deprecated SHA-1 hash algorithm alive in older browser versions, after major browsers announced plans to start rejecting SHA-1 certificates before the end of this year.
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