Friday, August 11, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

How Facebook Squashes Competition From Startups

Betsy Morris and Deepa Seetharaman:

At an all-hands meeting last summer, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told employees they shouldn’t let pride get in the way of serving users, another way of saying they shouldn’t be afraid to copy rivals, according to someone who was at the meeting. The message became an informal internal slogan: “Don’t be too proud to copy.”

[…]

Facebook uses an internal database to track rivals, including young startups performing unusually well, people familiar with the system say. The database stems from Facebook’s 2013 acquisition of a Tel Aviv-based startup, Onavo, which had built an app that secures users’ privacy by routing their traffic through private servers. The app gives Facebook an unusually detailed look at what users collectively do on their phones, these people say.

Via John Gruber:

So Facebook is using a VPN app that is supposed to protect users’ privacy to violate their privacy by analyzing which apps they use.

Also worth noting: in the iOS App Store, Onavo’s owner is still listed as “Onavo, Inc.”, not “Facebook”.

Because people would probably find a VPN app from Facebook creepy.

1 Comment

>So Facebook is using a VPN app that is supposed to protect users’
>privacy to violate their privacy by analyzing which apps they use.

That's kind of what the app does, though. It tells you how much data individual apps use, it routes data through an Onavo server to compress images and other large data, it blocks potentially harmful sites, and iirc, it also just immediately points out which apps tend to use a lot of data. It's pretty obvious just from using it that Onavo has to be able to look at your data, otherwise, the features it provides couldn't work.

Not telling people that they're owned by Facebook is super shady, though.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment