The recently released Facebook Portal combines a video chat screen and Alexa for a unique video call experience. The innovative device follows you and zooms to keep you constantly in the frame while you chat.
However, many consumers are reluctant to invite the device into their home. Why would they want to put a Facebook camera and microphone in their house when Facebook has such a poor track record in respecting users’ privacy?
The “Portal” is the “Telescreen” from 1984
— Jack MeHoff (@MrMeHoff422) November 9, 2018
Facebook’s in-Home spying device now available for purchase just in time for Christmas!
“We can’t keep your name and email private, so let us put a camera and microphone in your home!”
— Tim Kenney (@tkenney01) November 12, 2018
I’ve had one of Facebook ’s new video-calling gadgets, the Portal+, in my home for the last week. And by “in my home,” I mean, in the basement, in a closet, in a box, in a bag that’s in another bag that’s covered with old coats.
I just couldn’t bring myself to set up Facebook’s camera-embedded screen in the privacy of my family’s home. Can you blame me when you look at the last 16 months?
Facebook has taken multiple steps to reassure users of their privacy. The company has equipped the device with a privacy shield, and states that privacy is built into every layer of the device. It doesn’t use facial recognition or save recordings, and the camera and mic can be easily disabled when the device is not in use.
Additionally, Facebook is hoping that the new YouTube capability on the device will help entice more people to purchase the product. Previously, Portal could only play video from Facebook Watch, Food Network, or Newsy.
The next step Facebook has planned for Portal is to integrate with Google Assistant. Facebook’s VP of Portal Rafa Camargo stated:
We definitely have been talking to Google as well. We view the future of these home devices . . . as where you will have multiple assistants and you will use them for whatever they do best . . . We’d like to expand and integrate with them.
Do you think Portal will be able to succeed, or are the odds stacked against the device?