Facebook Reportedly Working on a Camera-Equipped Streaming Box for TVs

19 October, 2018, 19:26 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • Facebook backtracks, says data from Portal devices may inform ad targeting

Facebook has admitted that its new household video device, which puts a microphone and camera into people's living rooms, will collect data that could be sold to advertisers. 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.

While the device now doesn't show ads, the company may use the information about Portal usage for ad targeting on its other platforms, a Facebook spokesperson told Recode. The set-top box would let you stream Watch shows to your television, though it's not clear if it would support content from other platforms. Apart from furthering support for apps, Facebook will also have to assuage privacy concerns before it can hope to convince people to turn their TVs into a huge eye. "Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads", the spokesperson concluded, contradicting earlier statements regarding Portal. Company execs also said that no data collected through the Portals would be used to target users with ads on Facebook.

Rafa Camargo, product Vice President for Portal, went on to follow up the contradiction by apologizing for sharing inaccurate info. Now the company has changed its mind and says that actually it could be hitting users with targeted ads.

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Facebook was already facing significant obstacles with its entry into the highly competitive in-home smart device market, and this news is likely to do little to ensure consumers and marketers that personal data is being safeguarded. The Portal has a camera cover and an option to deactivate the video and sound recording. But Facebook's having to confirm that the Portal gadgets have the potential to turn more of your data into ads isn't something Portal skeptics will like hearing, not after the year Facebook had so far.

Pat Walshe of Privacy Matters claimed that Portal could be compared to Dracula given the responsibility of manning the blood bank. In its last quarterly report, Facebook said it earned $13.23bn in revenues, $13bn of which came from ads, up 42 per cent from a year prior.

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