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Facebook is launching a streaming device that watches you while you watch TV

Facebook is launching a streaming device that watches you while you watch TV
[Photo: JESHOOTS.COM/Unsplash]

Facebook will launch an all-new Portal device in time for the holidays, which will be the company’s first foray into the hot video streaming device market, reports Variety. That video streaming device market is currently dominated by the likes of Roku, Amazon, and Apple, but Facebook is hoping living rooms across the U.S. will be willing to switch out their Fire TV and Apple TV devices for one from the social media giant.

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Facebook’s current line of Portal devices are essentially video conferencing screens with Amazon’s Alexa built in. But the new video streaming Portal device is the company’s attempt to control the TV. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Facebook is launching a video streaming Portal device. It was previously rumored as far back as October last year.

However, Facebook may have a very tough time convincing people to put their new Portal video streaming devices in their living rooms—at least people who care about their privacy. That’s because the new Portal video streaming device is said to have a camera and integrated far-field microphones, so it’s capable of watching and listening to people as they watch TV in their living rooms.

Of course, Facebook isn’t getting that bold as to directly wiretap your living room. The video camera and microphones will be on the device in order to make it capable of video conferencing features like current Portal devices. There are also rumors the device will allow Facebook friends to have remote viewing parties, so two people can watch a show together from two different houses.

But as Fast Company’s Jared Newman pointed out previously, that sounds like a very cool feature—if it wasn’t Facebook that was doing it:

The problem, of course, is Facebook, which just suffered a major security breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 30 million users, and admitted earlier this year that up to 87 million users had their data harvested without permission by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Those blunders, along with other recent breaches of trust (such as misusing two-factor authentication numbers for targeted ads), could turn users off the idea of a Facebook-powered TV camera.

And besides, do consumers really want any camera constantly watching them in their own living room? It’s generally the most popular room in the house and where people have personal discussions and do plenty of other activities besides watch TV.

Right now Facebook’s video streaming device is only known by its codename, “Ripley,” but it’s likely to be branded “Portal” something when it hits store shelves. We’ll know soon enough. Variety says Facebook’s new device will hit the market before the holidays.

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