Facebook Offers Encrypted Tor Access for Users Concerned about Privacy

Nov 03, 2014 06:03 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Tags Facebook, Tor

Facebook has made a surprising foray into a mysterious corner of the Internet, recently announcing that its website works through the anonymous program Tor.

The world's biggest social network is now available at https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/ so users can be protected by the software's encrypted connections, Facebook announced on Friday.

"No, you're not anonymous to Facebook when you log in, but this provides a huge benefit for users who want security and privacy," said Runa Sandvik, a former Tor developer who Facebook says advised the project, as quoted by Wired. "You get around the censorship and local adversarial surveillance, and it adds another layer of security on top of your connection."

Launched in the mid-1990s as a secure connection for the U.S. Navy, Tor is free for download and should be especially handy for Facebook users in Iran, China and North Korea, countries that have banned Facebook lest it be used to spur revolution, the Telegraph reported.

When accessed through Tor software, Facebook connects users through three extra encrypted leaps to random computers that could be anywhere in the Internet. The additional volleys make it much more difficult for another party to trace users' connections.

"Tor challenges some assumptions of Facebook's security mechanisms--for example its design means that from the perspective of our systems a person who appears to be connecting from Australia at one moment may the next appear to be in Sweden or Canada," wrote Alec Muffett, software engineer for security infrastructure at Facebook London. "In other contexts such behavior might suggest that a hacked account is being accessed through a 'botnet,' but for Tor this is normal."

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