Earlier this month Facebook launched its two smart home devices — Portal and Portal + — that were supposed to take on similar products from Google and Amazon.
Anything coming from Facebook should be taken with a pinch of scepticism, especially with their long history of royal screw-ups including the Cambridge Analytica scandal as well as the recent security vulnerability that affected data of 30 million people worldwide.
During their launch, Facebook stated, “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. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.”
Facebook snoops into your Portal data too
But according to Recode’s latest report about Portal, Facebook is indeed snooping into your Portal because Facebook will harness data from your Portal devices to show you targeted ads.
“Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, 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,” a Facebook spokesperson told Recode.
The spokesperson also added that this information will be used to customise the ads shown on their platform. Other information that will be collected will include aggregate usage of apps or other ‘general’ usage data.
While Portal itself doesn’t run ads, this move could be intended to target the users and their contacts on other Facebook-owned social media platforms. But they don’t run ads yet, doesn’t mean they won’t ever.
Facebook can’t keep their hands off of your data and you know you can’t trust them to.
Here is how Facebook puts it across on Portal’s official website: “Portal does not have Facebook ads at this time. Some third-party services on Portal (e.g., music partners) may embed ads in their content in the same way they do when providing their services on other devices.”
The important thing to note here is that Facebook says ‘Portal does not have Facebook ads at this time’. But if the device gets popular, who is to say that they won’t? After all, advertisements are Facebook’s top priority revenue source — their bread and butter — and since Zuck can get your smart home device to add to his revenue stream, believe me, he would.