As retailers crank up sales of smart display speakers, Facebook has admitted its video-enabled ‘Portal’ does track some user data – information used to deliver targeted ads.
It comes after several commentators assert the social media giant is simply collecting user data to sell.
Facebook has admitted it does collect Portal usage information to “improve” the product over time, adding it does not listen to calls.
Similar to Amazon’s Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal incorporates a camera for video chatting.
Google’s Home Hub does not offer a camera, a fact its states enables consumer to place the device in “sensitive areas” without privacy concerns e.g. a bedroom.
According to Recode, Facebook claims the Portal is built upon the same infrastructure as its Messenger service, with similar information collected e.g. length of calls and frequency of calls.
“Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads,” a Facebook spokesperson claims.
The admission comes amidst a sea of privacy concerns and security breaches for Facebook in the last year, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In September, Facebook announced it experienced its worst breach to date, with around 50 million user accounts affected.
Commentators claim the Portal’s release has come at an inopportune time, as the social media giant continues to face allegations of ‘fake news’, amidst declining user growth.
Whilst the Portal doesn’t directly run ads, usage data will reportedly help target ads on other Facebook apps.
As Recode claims, Facebook has largely struggled to exactly explain how it treats Portal usage data, whilst ensuring adequate security measures – a fact consumers have criticised.