Portal is Facebook’s controversial talking speaker, and the platform claims that it is not a device that plans to snoop on us.
This is the message that the social network says it got lost in the coverage before the launch of the device.
“The timing of the launch is a challenge, regarding the brand and trust, and we’re committed to improving on it,” says Facebook vice-president Andrew Bosworth.
Privacy-related concerns surrounded the device
The issues about privacy have been floating around Portal since the device was announced and this doesn’t come as a surprise considering Facebook’s recent challenges and the hacking that affected 30 million users.
Facebook executives claimed that fixing the issues would take at least a year.
Regarding Portal, Bosworth says “…this is the product you want. It’s exclusively focused on connecting you with the people you care about the most. This is dedicated to having you stay close to them.”
Portal comes with a built-in camera that has the ability to follow users around intuitively, and it also uses the Facebook Messenger platform for making calls.
Facebook admits Portal tracks calls
Facebook admitted that it tracks both the frequency and length of Messenger calls: “some of this information may be used for advertising purposes. For example, we may use the fact that you make lots of video calls to inform some of the ads you see.”
Just like Google and Amazon, Facebook records every query that users make to the speaker in order to learn how to answer correctly.
The device also stores the audio of the requests and Bosworth made sure to highlight the fact that users can find the stored items in Facebook settings and delete the audio copies if they want to.
The $199 Portal competes with the recently released Google Home Hub and the redesigned Amazon Echo Show.
A larger edition, Portal +, with a 15-inch screen, is currently being sold for $349.