Meta Accused Of Secretly Intercepting Snapchat’s Network Traffic Through Onavo, Bombshell Court Documents Reveal

Meta has been accused of carrying out a secret task that involved paying young teens to intercept user data on Snapchat via the Onavao app.

This data gathered was then used to further attain insights about user behavior and their respective likes or interests across Snap to better compete with the archrival of the industry.

The endeavor was dubbed Project Ghostbusters and it was used to intercept user data through the app’s network traffic as mentioned by tech news outlet, TechCrunch today.

These allegations were part of a new class action legal case by users who are now ganging up against the tech giant to hold it accountable for its shocking array of actions.

The project even featured a similar ghost logo that’s very much in line with Snapchat’s theme. And the only goal was to use a better understanding of user behavior to offer more competition to the platform online.

The project went on to include other leading tech platforms like Amazon and even video giant YouTube as mentioned in the documents.

Plenty of emails and discussions arose on this front including those concerning Facebook’s parent firm’s top line of executives.

The company was accused of rolling out apps that users could download on both iPhones and Android to determine usage arising in-app. At the same time, the company paid its users and a lot of those were teens so that they could have the platforms downloaded on devices so that the app’s traffic could be better gauged.

The matter goes as far back as 2016 in June when the company’s CEO wished to learn more about the app’s functioning and systems because of how much success and growth it had attained in such a short period.

Therefore, Zuckerberg ordered his team to figure out how to intercept data belonging to the app via analytics traffic stats to attain more understanding. All the services were encrypted but then intercepted by Meta to give rise to a secret formula or as mentioned in the filing, ‘secret sauce’ in terms of what makes the app click and how people are engaging so frequently and why.

For that, they rolled out a new IAAP program that could overcome the app’s encryption.
The goal was to design kits dubbed tech solutions to measure the findings as that would be the ideal middleman plan.

So the company gave the green signal to have users download Onavo and in return, they would receive cash payments for the act. And in case you’re wondering, Onavo is the term reserved for another VPN platform that Meta acquired in the year 2013.

It curates customized clients and server codes depending on the VPN proxy platform with the server stack. This is designed to decrypt secure traffic through server analytics across both Snap and beyond.

The fact that Meta actually paid users to take part in this including those arising from the teenage group is alarming on its own. Let’s not forget how getting access to servers belonging to some of the world’s biggest tech firms like YouTube, Amazon, and Snap is not a small deal.

Some users were also allocated to make use of another app called Facebook Research whereby they would receive $20 each month including referrals to have the app downloaded on devices.

However, the company continued to receive criticism for the act, and that resulted in more detailing of the whole functioning. Then in 2019, the firm opted to shut down Onavo, once and for all.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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