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Facebook lets Android users access the app anonymously through Tor

Facebook is trying to help as many people as possible avoid government censorship.


Patrick Howell O'Neill


Posted on Jan 19, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 8:38 am CDT

Facebook‘s popular Android app now supports use by the Tor anonymity network. The new feature will make it easier to securely access the world’s most popular social network on the world’s most popular smartphone operating system.

In 2014, Facebook launched an anonymous website on Tor so that users around the world could more securely access the service. The move to expand that access to the mobile app opens up the option to millions more users.

This is a significant step, because Facebook is banned in places like China and Iran. Activists in Egypt used Facebook to help organize the 2011 revolution that overthrew the country’s decades-old military dictatorship. Because Facebook is such an important tool, many governments try to stifle it.

But censorship and surveillance become more difficult when companies like Facebook allow people to use the site without ever leaving the Tor anonymity network, which is one of the most resilient anti-censorship services in the world.

In order to use the new feature, you have to download Orbot from Google Play or F-Droid.  Tor Project’s Android page offers instructions.

Photo via Joe The Goat Farmer/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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*First Published: Jan 19, 2016, 10:13 am CST