Facebook's Android app: Now Tor lets you connect anonymously

For people who want to use Facebook anonymously, the social network is now allowing Tor access directly from its Android app, expanding on its existing support from Tor-enabled browsers.

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Users can now connect anonymously using Facebook's Android app via Tor and the Orbot proxy.

Image: Facebook

Facebook is rolling out a new feature on its Android app that will let mobile users access the social network anonymously over The Onion Router network, or Tor.

You might not think of Facebook as a champion of privacy but the company did break new ground by launching an .onion address in 2014, so users could access the social network anonymously, without giving up their real location.

The catch was that users could only access the site from Tor-enabled browsers and not directly from its mobile app.

In the coming days, Facebook users with Android devices will be able to access the social network via Tor directly from the app. The feature stemmed from a suggestion by Will Shackleton, a British computer-science university student, during a summer internship at Facebook's London offices.

So, literally the 1st day of his internship, @wshackleton rocked up to me & asked how we can do this; 6 months later https://t.co/71TFM3FYDC

-- Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) January 19, 2016

As Facebook outlined in a post on Tuesday, launching its .onion "increased the security of Tor connections to Facebook by eliminating the steps that required traffic to travel beyond the cryptographic assurances provided by the Tor network".

Facebook says it will be offering experimental support for mobile app connections to Tor via Orbot, the Tor Project's official proxy app for Android.

Orbot is available on Google Play or the Orbot F-Droid repository. The proxy app interfaces with the Tor network, which bounces a user's traffic through a series of computers around the world to provide anonymity.

Once Orbot has been installed, Facebook users on Android will be able to activate the new privacy feature by toggling the 'Use Tor via Orbot' setting in its App Settings page. As it notes, once activated, notifications will be disabled as they can't be sent over Tor.

Facebook users might not see the feature just yet. However, the social network assures them that it will be available this week.

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