The amount of men and women employing the Tor anonymizing browser to accessibility Facebook has passed the one million mark this thirty day period for the initial time, Facebook has declared.

Tor (aka The Onion Router) is a community technology designed to maximize the privacy of world wide web customers by encrypting and randomly routing Internet connections by means of a throughout the world community of volunteer relays — thereby making it more difficult for individual world wide web connections to be traced back to a particular user.

Facebook created a dedicated onion deal with for Tor accessibility back in October 2014, aimed at creating it easier for users to connect via Tor, supplied that the way the network routes site visitors can be flagged by website protection infrastructure.

Facebook also expanded its Tor support at the start off of this year by rolling out aid for the Android Orbot proxy, giving Android Facebook customers an simpler way to use Tor.

The company said nowadays that growth of Tor over the past several several years has been “roughly” linear, noting that some 525,000 men and women accessibility the support by means of Tor in June 2015 — climbing to transfer than a single million this thirty day period. (Albeit it is really a great deal a fall in the ocean of Facebook utilization commonly, with the organization reporting a lot more than 1.59BN users as of January this year.)

“This [Tor] advancement is a reflection of the possibilities that men and women make to use Facebook over Tor, and the price that it provides them. We hope they will go on to offer feedback and help us keep increasing,” Facebook added.

Talking about why customers of the social media support, whose company design depends on monitoring and profiling customers by encouraging them not to be personal about their details, might see any point in using Tor’s network to accessibility reported support (supplied that their details is likely to be something but personal at the time they get there), Tor flags up some specific use-conditions why the characteristic could even now be useful to men and women, including location obfuscation.

Its routing procedure by means of a community of relays means it disguises the user’s physical area — presumably also cloaking that location data from Facebook. (Albeit, if you fb Messenger your close friend about the ‘great holiday break you’re having in Chicago’ Facebook is likely to be ready to determine out where you are anyway…)

Update: Tor has verified this supposition, with a spokeswoman for the organization telling TechCrunch: “When employing Facebook web site over Tor, Tor Browser is in charge of that data, so it is anonymous. Of study course, somebody could put up a status update saying that they are at some restaurant, for occasion, and that would de-anonymize them.”

A further reason Tor points to is to be certain a user’s identity does not leak to intermediaries — this sort of as ISPs or “an agency that surveils the Internet”.

“Political activists manage on Facebook: Their general public identity is significant in their do the job. So is their protection,” it notes in a assertion.

It provides that nations in which Internet accessibility (or use of Facebook especially) is blocked or censored can also be a determination for men and women to use Tor as a workaround for that block (i.e. relatively than as a especially professional-privacy support).

“Many men and women use Tor in nations in which the Internet is censored, not in purchase to be anonymous. Tor makes it possible for them to access the uncensored Internet, which include achieving Facebook. In Iran, for occasion, Facebook is blocked. So men and women use Tor to get onto the Internet and search, and from there they can arrive at Facebook.”

Furthermore it argues there are protection strengths “inherent” in the construction of its community, this sort of as creating man-in-the-middle attacks a lot more tricky to carry out.

For its portion Facebook does not delve way too explicitly into the psychology of its Tor customers but just notes that men and women use Tor for “a wide range of good reasons related to privacy, protection and safety”.

Why does Facebook care about Tor? Supplying yet another route for users who could not if not want to or be ready to accessibility its support implies it most likely gets to keep/gain that smaller group of people as Facebook customers.

But, if you want to be more cynical about it, you could say Facebook is engaging in a minor brandwashing of its details-run company model by cosying up to a properly known entity in the privacy/protection place — which could result in the perception that it cares about user privacy.

Sure Facebook is delighted to safeguard your details from slipping into the palms of companies unattached to its company. But, recall, at the time you go through those blue gates it is a details totally free-for-all.