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Facebook backtracks on Portal privacy protections

Facebook backtracks on Portal privacy protections
[Photo: courtesy of Facebook]

Sigh. That didn’t take long. Last week when Facebook unveiled the Portal, a video conferencing device for your home, the company touted that it had multiple privacy redundancies built in and was in no way going to spy on users or use user data to target them with ads.

But now Facebook has backtracked on some of those claims. As Recode reports, Facebook reached out to them to clarify that data about who you call on Portal and which apps you have installed on the device will, in fact, be used to target ads at you on other Facebook-owned properties. As a Facebook spokesperson clarified 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. 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.”

When Recode reached out to Facebook to further investigate the misinformation the company gave about Portal’s ad-targeting capabilities, Rafa Camargo, the product VP in charge of Portal, rather unhelpfully didn’t clarify if user data obtained through a Portal would or would not be used for ad targeting, saying:

“I think [my colleague] was intending to say that we don’t intend to use it. Potentially, it could be used.”

Right, then . . .

And for the record, this is the company that wants to put a video camera in your TV to watch you when you are relaxing around your house.

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