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Sorry for the noob question.

This is facebook's onion url - facebookcorewwwi.onion

If people want to use facebook anonymously, they can just use facebook with their tor browser right? Why does facebook have to have a onion site? My idea is only if fb want hide themselves, they should be having an onion site. But it is said that fb is running tor hidden service to give users anonymity. I don't undertand how the fb hidden service improves user's anonymity?

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  • After some research, this is what I realized. The difference between normal fb and onion fb is that normal fb can know your ip but onion fb cannot know your ip, thereby increasing anonymity of user. It also makes server targeted sniffing (by hacker or isp itself) not possible as its ip address is hidden. One might try to sniff on the introduction points, but then the introduction points keep on changing so its very difficult for someone to sniff. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 16:16
  • It doesn't take any research to realize the knowledge of IP by the destination is inaccessible, that is the entire point of using Tor in the first place.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 17:11
  • @Chenmunka Actually it took me some research to understand this. Let me explain. When asked this question, I was not able to understand how fb's onion service in anyway improve my anonimity as I can always use tor browser (with normal fb) and be anonymous. It took me some research to realize the two points in my answer. Added the second point only now. Commented Jun 22, 2020 at 17:24
  • Good point. Perhaps you could edit that int the question. It would sit well there.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 7:25

3 Answers 3

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Onion services aren't just about hiding things. They are about providing a platform for users who need to be anonymous.

The fact is that many countries block Facebook but Tor users are still able to access it via the onion service.

See Facebook's website here and here for more details.

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  • Using a tor browser (or just a vpn) to acess facebook.com is not enough to circumvent the block in some countries? The location based blocking reason is not very convincing to me. Other big sites like google is also blocked in countries but people just use it with vpn right? If users want more anonymity then they can use tor browser to browse the normal site itself right? Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 18:29
  • What I always say is, if you don't like the answer, go to the source. torproject.org/contact Alec Muffet is often in the IRC room. He is the one who designed the system for Facebook.
    – elmerjfudd
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:51
  • @ManiBharathy additionally it is always better to stay within the Tor network (regarding encryption & security), than having to exit it to reach the endpoint resp. server. Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 11:06
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Possibly three reasons.

  1. As suggested, access beyond the clearnet where Facebook is blocked;

  2. One point may also be script usage. You commented that users can access Facebook through Tor, but one of the drawbacks of Tor Browser is its performance with scripted web services, particularly webmail and the like, rendering many websites and web services unusable - there are many examples. This has an impact on Tor's value as a speech vehicle, depending on where you want to speak: signing up for the average forum involves getting an email address, opening a forum account, responding to confirmation email, and then posting, on the clearnet widely involving the use of javascripts and requiring java to be enabled in Tor. I personally avoid this experience, and the pain of sitting through crosswalks and bicycles over and over again and watching websites fail. By this point, much of the value of pseudonymous access seems lost. Accessing the service as an onion service might avoid this - though script enablement is a typical channel for deobfuscation attacks;

  3. Providing a service as an onion address allows Tor to be used to access it without exit nodes at all.

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Because it cares about it's users and their ability to reach and use the service provided. Utilizing an onion entrance for your website or other network resource is a great add-on! Let's face the truth: in clearnet only a tiny minority of the attacks are fully investigated and prosecuted, so there's no so-widely-promoted by authorities true clearnet... Darknet is just another way to route the same old network packets - but to disrupt all the censoring and eavesdropping parties on the way of the packet through network - from your device to the server and back. Especially authorities, governments and another criminals. In my opinion - every service should use a darknet entrance for it - it is as simple as a reverse proxy configuration, no extra tuning needed!

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