Can Facebook’s new Portal video caller eavesdrop on you?


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Facebook recently admitted that its video call function could be used for targeted advertising. That’s no coincidence, according to Recode.

“Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices,” a Facebook spokesperson said to Recode. “We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across our platforms. Other general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads.”

This may seem tone deaf coming from the privacy-hobbled social media company, but Portal’s launch also makes some sense. Whether it’s the Lenovo Smart Display or Google’s Home Hub, companies are quickly manufacturing more video display devices. It’s no surprise that Facebook wants a slice of that pie, too.

Then again, few companies have suffered the privacy woes that Facebook has, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and a September hack that claimed 30 million users’ personal information.


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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. senators in April that the social network doesn’t “listen in” and mine users’ smartphones for data, but the company’s admissions about Portal may very well muddy that claim.

This article originally appeared on GearBrain and was syndicated by

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