October 18, 2018
When Facebook launched Portal — a handsfree video calling device — to compete with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Hub, there was a hullabaloo regarding the privacy and collection of data by the device. Given Facebook’s reputation in handling users’ data and recent cases of breach, everybody thought that it is a dumb move by the Zuckerberg owned company.
At that time, Facebook representatives told that the device would collect no data for displaying advertisements. However, the company has taken a U-turn now, and Facebook has said that its video calling device is capable of collecting some “information” that can be used for showing user targeted ads.
Facebook’s official statement to Recode read: “…..we collect the same types of information (i.e., usage data such as length of calls, the frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads.”
Speaking to Recode, Facebook’s Rafa Camargo, the product VP in charge of Portal said, “I think [my colleague] was intending to say that we don’t intend to use it.”
He added, “Potentially, it could be used.”
In layman terms, Facebook means that the device is capable of collecting data, but they don’t have any plans of using it for advertisement purpose YET.
So this makes Portal another data collecting monster that could compromise your privacy. It would be really challenging for Facebook to market its hardware amidst the rising cases of data breach and users’ waning trust in the company.