Facebook is creating a new video chat camera and they want you to install it in your living room. Dubbed The Portal, the camera will spy on your phones calls in order to sell advertising.
It looks like all those privacy concerns are finally coming to a head. The Portal device will be watching who you call and for how long, and how you use apps. It will take all of that information and use it to target advertisements for you, according to the Metro UK.
Facebook unveiled the screen-like device, which has Amazon Alexa built in, at an event earlier this month and we reported on it. The gadget can be used to make video calls to friends and family via the social media giant’s Messenger platform. But the social media giant previously claimed that device data wouldn’t be used to target advertisements amid privacy concerns. It’s a good thing most people no longer trust Facebook because that turned out to be a lie.
In a statement issued to tech site Recode, Facebook said, “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, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices.” The statement went on to say: “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.”
The news comes in the wake of multiple privacy scandals involving Facebook, such as a data leak affecting 30 million users, the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the censorship of speech on the platform. In order to attempt to calm the nerves of those who are leery of purchasing a Portal device, Facebook said the gadget comes with a camera lens cover and the ability to disable both the camera and the microphone with a single tap. But can they be trusted? The consensus is clearly “no.”
In another attempt to calm fears of their privacy violations, the company said in the blog post announcing the device that we have nothing to worry about. “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.”