Facebook now has more than one million people accessing its social network over Tor, an increase of almost 100 percent in the past 10 months.
As of June 2015, around 525,000 people used Tor to access Facebook, according to the company. And this month (April), for the first time ever, that 30-day rolling figure exceeded the magic one million mark. This may have been helped along by the recent rollout of Facebook Tor support on Android phones via the Orbot proxy app.
“People who choose to communicate over Tor do so for a variety of reasons related to privacy, security and safety,” said Alec Muffett, software engineer for security infrastructure at Facebook, in a blog post. “As we’ve written previously, it’s important to us to provide methods for people to use our services securely — particularly if they lack reliable methods to do so.”
For the uninitiated, Tor — an acronym of “The Onion Router” — is software that directs traffic through a network of relays. It’s typically used by activists or anyone living under strict government regimes. But really, it can be used by anyone who wishes to remain completely anonymous online. Myriad mainstream companies have turned to the technology, including newspapers — to help protect whistle-blowers. Facebook revealed it was switching on anonymous access to the social network through Tor way back in 2014, courtesy of a Tor onion address (https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion).