The Freedom iOS App Blocker technology works reliably for all websites. It also works reliably for the vast majority of apps. Unfortunately, there are a few exceptions. The ones we currently know about are:

  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • Instagram

These apps are all owned by Facebook, and because of special technology that is used by these apps, they can not be blocked using our current methods. But in all cases, their websites can be blocked. Additionally, The Apple App store can be blocked, making it impossible to install these apps during a session. So, using the below recipe, you can work around these limitations and still achieve a good experience.

We are always experimenting with new blocking technology, and some techniques are looking promising. We hope to be able to fully block these apps in the near future.

Make the app unusable during sessions

1. Delete the app you would like to block.

Hold your finger down on the app until it starts vibrating, then click the x in the corner to delete it.

2. Include the iOS App Store in your blocklist.

In addition to blocking your desired apps and websites, also block the IOS App Store

Make your app easy to use in between sessions

Now that you've blocked your apps during sessions, let's make them easier to use via the website by saving a bookmark on your home screen. Facbeook is used as an example in the screenshots. Note: this only works for Facebook and YouTube, not for Whatsapp, which does not work via its website.

1. Open Safari and launch the website

Open facebook.com, youtube.com, or whatever is relevant for your geographic region. Wait for the website to finish loading before going on to the next steps.

2. Tap the “action” icon at the bottom.

3. Tap “Add to Home Screen”

It's in the second row of actions. You might need to drag the list to the left in order to find it.

4. Confirm information and add to home screen.

Either Keep the name “Facebook” or "YouTube", or if you want to differentiate from the apps you can change the name to "Facebook Web" or "YouTube Web". Confirm that the url is “https://m.facebook.com” or “https://m.youtube.com”. If it isn't, this might be because the website didn't finish loading in step 1.

Now you are 🆓

The icon will be saved to your Home Screen. It will look just like a regular app icon, and you can move it to another location just like a regular app icon. Whenever you want to use your app, just tap on the icon and it will launch facebook.com in Safari, giving you a fully-featured experience very similar to using the app. If you try to launch it while a Freedom session is running, you won’t be able to access the site.

Why can't Facebook Apps be blocked?

So why can't Facebook apps be blocked?  Unfortunately, it isn't a grand conspiracy to keep you distracted.  The reason is that Facebook apps use a custom-designed web request library that is different from the standard web request library used by 99.9% of other iOS apps.  The Facebook web request library does not respect on-demand VPN settings, which is how our blocker works.  Understanding this is helping us develop a solution - and we expect to roll that out in 2018.

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