Facebook experiments with Internet anonymity for Tor users

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Facebook has created a new way for Tor users to remain anonymous while accessing their accounts.

Despite criticisms leveled against Facebook over their collection of user data, the social media giant has released a .onion address for use on Tor networks.

The Tor network allows users to remain anonymous while accessing the web by relaying their connections to various undisclosed servers across the globe while also encrypting their traffic.

“It’s important to us at Facebook to provide methods for people to use our site securely. People connect to Facebook in many different ways, which is why we have implemented HTTPS across our service, and Perfect Forward Secrecy, HSTS, and other technologies which help give people more confidence that they are connected securely to Facebook,” said Facebook’s Software Engineer for Security Infrastructure Alec Muffett in a post on Friday.

“Facebook’s onion address provides a way to access Facebook through Tor without losing the cryptographic protections provided by the Tor cloud,” he added.

While some have compared Facebook’s entrance to the ‘darkweb’ as awkward, many have championed the progressive move, including Wired reporter Andy Greenberg and even Tor Developer Roger Dingledine, who published a blog post on the subject.

“So I am excited that this move by Facebook will help to continue opening people’s minds about why they might want to offer a hidden service, and help other people think of further novel uses for hidden services,” Dingledine said in the blog post.

“Another really nice implication here is that Facebook is committing to taking its Tor users seriously. Hundreds of thousands of people have been successfully using Facebook over Tor for years, but in today’s era of services like Wikipedia choosing not to accept contributions from users who care about privacy, it is refreshing and heartening to see a large website decide that it’s ok for their users to want more safety,” he added.

While the move by Facebook is still considered a beginning for providing support to Tor users, the social media platform is hoping to learn ways to make it more so user-friendly and accessible.

“Over time we hope to share some of the lessons that we have learned – and will learn – about scaling and deploying services via the Facebook onion address; we have many ideas and are looking forward to improving this service. A medium-term goal will be to support Facebook’s mobile-friendly website via an onion address, although in the meantime we expect the service to be of an evolutionary and slightly flaky nature.” Muffett explains.

Facebook may be anonymously accessed on a Tor network browser using the URL https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/.