Facebook is beginning to send mixed messages to its users regarding the privacy of their information. Facebooks’ recent partnership with ABC News and BuzzFeed to provide political data mining of its users’ conversations seems in direct contrast to its newly official support of the Tor Project, which offers people an anonymous way to browse the web. Tor also works with instant messengers.
Tor is a web browser that allows users to access any site without leaving a data trail behind them. It works by bouncing communications and location information to random places around the world. Those interested in retaining their internet privacy and avoiding potential information leaks regarding their browsing habits, as well as any data that can be construed from those habits, can use Tor. In addition, Tor is a great tool for people in countries restricting internet access to specific sites. By browsing via Tor rather than other web browsers, users can view sites otherwise blocked to them. In some cases, Tor can prove useful in life-or-death situations.
Previously, when Tor was used to access Facebook, any account using the application was flagged as “hacked.” Now that Facebook has opted to provide users with access to directly connect to their Facebook accounts via Tor, they are provided with data encryption and will no longer be flagged as a hacked account.
With internet giants like Google and Facebook pushing hard on user visibility and requiring people to use their real names in conjunction with their activities on the web, there’s an obvious need for an application like Tor. Facebook’s support of Tor flies in the face of its previous actions and statements regarding user privacy. However, Facebook’s stated reasoning for implementing direct access through Tor comes down to providing users with secure and stable accessibility to its application without forcing Tor users to jump through hoops due to the bouncing location integral to Tor privacy.