Facebook’s newly launched video-chatting device faces privacy concerns

Ahmadullah Rahmat / October 9, 2018

Facebook’s newly launched video-chatting devices faces privacy concerns

The Facebook new Portal device and privacy

Facebook announced a new “Portal” device yesterday. It’s the company’s own smart speaker with a touchscreen display and with a built-in camera, similar to the Amazon’s Echo Show.  

Although Facebook says the product connects you with your closest friends and feels like you’re in the same room — even when you are miles apart, it raises privacy concerns. Sara Neuert, the Executive Director of BC FIPA said that people should think about their privacy before deciding on a device.

A company has shown itself to be lacking in best practices is asking to come into your home and have the ability to listen to everything being said in your private conversations.” – Sara Neuert, Executive Director, BC FIPA

According to a Facebook’s press release, the device’s smart camera stays with the action and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view. The sound minimizes background noise and enhances the voice of whoever is talking, no matter where they move. Knowing that Facebook already has access to users private information, how much big of a difference will using the new device make? Neuert said,  

Already having access to peoples’ private information may only serves as a plus if it is convenient, but thinking about Facebook’s track record with protecting that information, it doesn’t seem to be have leverage over it’s competitors because the they haven’t regained the public trust yet.

Facebook’s newly launched video-chatting devices faces privacy concerns

The new video-chatting device introduced by Facebook

Facebook has been known to collect as much data as it can from its users. The company, however said, it has designed the “Portal” device with tools that give you control which includes the following. 

  • Disable the camera and microphone with a single tap. 

  • Has a camera cover that you can block your camera’s lens and still receive incoming calls and notifications, plus use voice commands. 

  • Manage Portal access within your home, you can set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked. Changing the passcode requires your Facebook password. 

Facebook claims to stand apart on the market because of more users of its messenger but the announcement comes at a time that just 2 weeks ago the company issued a security alert that an attacker got access to take over 50 million user accounts because of software flaws.