Facebook Tries To Allay Portal Privacy Fears

As Facebook’s Portal and Portal+ smart displays hit store shelves this week, the social giant is clearly worried that privacy concerns will scare away shoppers.

“We know there are some questions around Portal privacy and ads, so we’d like to provide more details on these topics,” the tech titan writes in a new blog post.

“Facebook does not listen to, view or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,” the company insists. “This means nothing you say on a Portal video call is accessed by Facebook or used for advertising.”

Yet, that doesn’t mean that users’ Portal activity won’t be used to serve them more targets ads, Facebook admits.

“When you use Portal, we process the same kinds of information as when you use Facebook products on your other devices,” the company concedes. “Some of this information, including the fact that you logged into your account or how often you use a feature or app, may be used to inform the ads you see across Facebook.”

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Among Portal users, the sort of information that Facebook plans to track includes the frequency and length of their calls, volume level, number of bytes received and frame resolution.

“Some of this information may be used to target ads,” Facebook says. “For example, if you make lots of video calls, you might see some ads related to video calling.”

Additionally, Facebook says it plans to track device usage information in order to understand how Portal is being used and make future improvement.

Facebook says it doesn’t plan to serve ads directly on Portal, but users might encounter them on third-party apps running within the platform.

The smart displays represent Facebook’s first big bet on hardware.

By syncing with users’ Facebook Messenger accounts, the gadgets’ foremost function is video chatting with friends and family.

Thanks to partnerships with Amazon, Google, etc., the screens will mirror the functionality of the Echo, Google Home and other voice-responsive smart speakers.

For $199, the Portal features a 10-inch screen; for $349, the Portal+ boasts a 15-inch pivoting display.

Both models officially went on sale today. Along with a dedicated online store, Amazon and Best Buy are carrying both products.
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