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Facebook Makes It Easy To Login With Tor

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

In a remarkable move, Facebook has decided to open up its website to Tor users. The social networking giant has recently set up a dedicated URL for its website that can be accessed only via the Tor network. By doing so, Facebook has become the first company that has been issued an SSL certificate by the Certificate Authority for a Tor URL (.onion address).

Facebook is often derided for compromising the privacy of its users but its latest move would actually help those who want to access the social networking site in a safe and secure way. As you might be aware, Tor is an open source software project that helps to protect anonymity and privacy on the internet. When you access a website via Tor, your requests are routed through a series of computers before being sent to the requested URL. This not only protects your from local surveillance but also shields your personal and location information from the web service providers.

Due to the level of anonymity and privacy that it provides, Tor is also used by hackers and unscrupulous elements for criminal activities. That’s one of the reasons why web service providers often associate Tor traffic with botnet attacks. Also, since the location and IP address of a Tor user changes frequently, even legitimate requests and accounts are flagged down by service providers citing suspicious activity. Before it decided to launch its very own Tor website, Facebook was also known to flag and shut down accounts that relied on the Tor network to access the website.

Facebook’s decision to open up its network to Tor users would come as a boon for journalists, activists and citizens residing in strife torn and censorship prone countries. Journalists working in active war zones or nations ruled by dictators can now report their findings accurately without worrying about persecution or censorship imposed by their regimes. In addition, citizens from China, Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria (and many other locations) can now bypass the social media bans imposed by their governments and log into their Facebook accounts without worrying about online censorship or the risk of their accounts getting flagged. The move would also help victims of online stalking to log into their Facebook accounts without revealing their actual location to criminals. Furthermore, the development would also be welcomed by those who want to enjoy social networking without revealing excessive personal information to service providers such as Facebook.

Facebook’s move to embrace Tor would also make its website accessible to millions of people who are currently not part of its network. Recent studies have shown that the number of new users joining the network as well as the average time spent by a Facebook user on the site have gone down considerably so the social giant needs access to new audience to keep the momentum going. By creating a Tor friendly site, Facebook hopes to capture markets where it does not have a big presence yet (such as China) as well as boost the number of users and revenue significantly.

Facebook’s Tor friendly website is available at (accessible only via Tor browser): https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/

December 31, 2014

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