Facebook has added anonymity service Tor to their Android app, allowing users to browse the network without leaving any traces.
Facebook already enables computer-based browsing via Tor since 2014.
"Everybody in the world needs more privacy online and almost everybody is on Facebook,” said Kate Krauss, a spokeswoman for the Tor Project, a group of developers that oversee progress of the anonymity software.
Krauss also acknowledged that cooperation with Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is helping Tor to grow as it now can tap into the pool of Facebook’s 1.5 billion monthly active users.
"This will allow people to choose whether to share their location or not. For some people, this is convenience. For others it is lifesaving," she said via the encrypted message service Signal.
Facebook’s move comes as policymakers and technology companies debate whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators more easily thwart hackers.
Facebook said in a blog post that usage of Tor for Facebook browsing on PCs has grown considerably since 2014, prompting calls for additional Tor support.
However, Krauss said that there are no current plans to also enable Tor on the Facebook iOS platform used by Apple’s devices.
Tor can automatically hide computer IP addresses, typically by concealing the identity of an Internet user. Its popularity has grown following revelations of US spying on the Internet by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
Tor was funded by the US government as a communications tool to be used by dissidents in oppressive countries. However, surveillance agencies have been complaining about the service, as it makes extremely difficult to monitor its users.
Using Tor on Android requires a download of Orbot, an app that is used to connect to Tor, and updating Facebook's app settings.
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