Meta Snooped on Users’ Snapchat Traffic With the Onavo VPN It Owned

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, TechCrunch:

In 2016, Facebook launched a secret project designed to intercept and decrypt the network traffic between people using Snapchat’s app and its servers. The goal was to understand users’ behavior and help Facebook compete with Snapchat, according to newly unsealed court documents. Facebook called this “Project Ghostbusters,” in a clear reference to Snapchat’s ghost-like logo.


Later, according to the court documents, Facebook expanded the program to Amazon and YouTube.

It is worth underscoring that this happened between 2016 and when Meta shut down Onavo in 2019. Meta — then Facebook — was not a small company at this time. Yet what it was doing with Onavo is so unethical it feels criminal: one of the world’s biggest corporations spying on millions of users through something it presented as a VPN for their privacy and security.