Facebook’s ‘Portal’ Video Chat Device Could Be A ‘Data-Collection Monster,’ Warns ‘Gizmodo’

Facebook to unveil the Portal.
TY Lim / Shutterstock

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the public’s perception of Facebook has shifted. One of the effects of the scandal can be seen in the number of people who have deleted the Facebook app from their phones. The number is believed to be around one out of four users, according to the Inquisitr.

And now, as Facebook plans to unveil their new “Portal” device, the same questions about privacy are being asked. As Gizmodo pointed out, the answers seemed contradictory at first. At first, it was believed that “no data collected through Portal… will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.” Later, Facebook clarified the following.

“We may use this information [collected on Portal] 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.”

For this reason, Gizmodo warned that Portal is “fully capable of being a data-collection monster, and that data can absolutely be used for ad targeting.”

The data collection from Portal machines could be much more effective for Facebook than through its traditional means. After all, Portal devices have mics, camera, and Alexa.

Also, Portal is a way for Facebook to enter the market with a virtual assistant device. However, it’s hard to know whether some of the consumers’ distrust of Facebook could prevent them from purchasing the device.

Portal will have many features, including Smart Cameras, Smart Sound, and ability to share content on Facebook. It’ll also provide an up-to-the-minute display of the latest notifications and pictures. And since it has Alexa, many people could opt to use it instead of the currently popular Echo Dot.

It does appear that Facebook is trying to reassure their consumers as far as privacy concerns go, as the Portal will also come with a camera cover. It’s a small black clip that covers the camera portion of the device. They also made the following promises.

“Facebook doesn’t listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling.”

Also, Portal promises not to use facial recognition software, in order to offer privacy for those who may be captured by the Smart Camera.

As interest in Facebook could be waning, this device could be a way for the company to regain interest in their platform. After all, they’re touting Portal as being “designed to help you connect more often with your loved ones.”