Members of parliament have given out details about Facebook’s application Onavo which is a virtual private network that gathers information about its competitors by spying on users. They claimed in the 100 pages long report that the social media platform intentionally violated laws of data privacy and anti-competition. The report also furnished details about how fake news on Facebook was utilized for benefitting a certain political party during the elections. The Committee of Digital Culture Media and Sport has written that with the use of Onavo which had been brought in to give extra security to users, Facebook collects their app usage data to know how may have downloaded it and how often they were used.
The report declared that this information about app usage by algorithms of Facebook helped it to find out which worked well and provided valuable information about its competitors. Facebook would then acquire these firms or close down those that would threaten its business in the near future. The committee report also includes a graph about analysis of data collected with the assistance of Onavo that shows how apps have been used as common tools by Facebook and rival services to eliminate competition.
This is how Facebook was able to acquire Instagram for $1 billion and also WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014. The report has specified details about how Facebook has shut off access of certain services to competitors and in recent years used its clout to shut down access to Vine users that wanted to invite their Facebook friends into the service as Vine video service was owned by its rival Twitter. In the end Twitter had to close down Vine in 2016 due to scarcity of users. Also around 5,000 apps that had been whitelisted on Facebook have the ability to access data of users and those of their friends on the platform.