Facebook, a perennial abuser of your privacy and trust, is pitching to the public a branded AI camera that promises a “new way to connect” in your home.
Portal from @Facebook with Smart, hands-free video calling and @Amazon Alexa built-in. Smart Camera automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view and with Alexa assistant, you can access many of the things you know and love – just ask. https://t.co/UlIKzpTUe6 #Portal pic.twitter.com/BNGagiqvD4
— Portal from Facebook (@PortalFacebook) October 8, 2018
Hope you’re still with us after an onslaught of red flags. The intrusive device is called Portal, and is essentially a video-calling monitor with a front-facing camera that allows you to video chat with your friends. It also makes it possible to do everyone Alexa is capable of, like check the weather or order groceries.
Oh, and it can follow you around the room during a call. “Like having your own cinematographer,” as Facebook puts it. “Whether people are cooking in the kitchen or chasing the kids around the living room, Smart Camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
While that’s all cool and great, it’s difficult to separate the service from the provider. Facebook, as you’re surely aware, has been involved in one of the most egregious privacy breaches on record. The company’s relationship Cambridge Analytica meant 87 million people may have had their data accessed by an unauthorized third party.
And that’s just not the type of guest you’d like to have following you around your home with a camera.
An inside look at Facebook Portal in your home pic.twitter.com/mTtj1wPAsC
— Niv Dror (@Nivo0o0) October 8, 2018
Facebook did address privacy concerns to align with Portal’s announcement. “We know that privacy and security are important when you bring new technology into your home. That’s why we designed Portal with tools that give you control,” a spokesperson said. “Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.”
The device even comes with a handy camera cover should Facebook fail to win over your trust overnight.