Last month, Facebook announced that users will be able to access the social network through Tor, a popular privacy-protecting program. This is a bit of a big deal for the tech world as Facebook is the first major tech company to step out into the so-called “dark web” and provide a way for users to use the website while also protecting their private location information.
How does Tor work?
Tor (short for “the onion router”) was started in 2002 as an open-source software program designed to protect a user’s privacy on the web. Tor accomplishes this by directing a person’s web traffic through a worldwide network of servers safely and anonymously. By going through these various servers, Tor adds extra layers of encryption that makes it more challenging for anyone who may be monitoring web traffic activity to pinpoint where it started.
Tor users had access to Facebook before this but they regularly encountered challenges. Non-Tor users send their location and IP info from one steady source. This isn’t the case when using Tor, which regularly changes your IP info to maintain privacy. A Facebook user using Tor may login via a server in Sydney, but minutes later that may change to a server coming from Berlin, then Tokyo, and so on. Facebook servers flag this kind of activity as dangerous as this kind of behavior can come from a compromised account or malicious attack. Now, Tor users will have a direct connection to Facebook’s servers, which will recognize it as a legitimate user.
It’s worth keeping an eye on other major tech companies to see if any follow suit. This is a sure sign that mainstream tech industry is reaching out to users who value privacy in a direct way.