Facebook has made changes to its Android app which could allow mobile users to make use of the social network despite the efforts of the Chinese government to block the service.
According to CNN Money, the Facebook app will make use of Tor’s encryption network to encrypt and mask your data and location.
Tor achieves this by directing internet traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network consisting of more than seven thousand relays. At present it is used widely by criminals to avoid surveillance by law enforcement, but the partnership with Facebook hints at a more mainstream application.
After downloading the mobile app Orbot, users will be able to select to route Facebook traffic through the Tor network. Its makers stress, however, that there is no certainty that it will work 100 percent of the time. The Chinese government continually adapts to attempts to thwart its program of censorship.
Analysts suggest that the move is an attempt by the social networking giant to gain more traction in the Chinese market, with or without the government’s approval.
“Facebook is mostly doing this to extend its reach, which of course is how it makes more money in the long run,” said Richard Windsor, an analyst at Edison Investment Research.
“They want to make sure they get everyone in the world connected to Facebook, and this is the only way they’ll get people to do it,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
[Images via CNN Money]