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Even the Muppets can’t make Facebook Portal seem less creepy

Even the Muppets can’t make Facebook Portal seem less creepy

It makes perfect sense. A little sugar with the medicine—or in this case, a spoonful of childhood nostalgia to help the privacy concerns go down. Here we have Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Animal, the Swedish Chef, Rolf the dog, and other Muppets doing their Muppet-y best to make Facebook’s Portal look like the ultimate communication device. “If you can’t be there, feel there,” says the tagline.

It’s a cute, fun spot by agency Anomaly Los Angeles, but there are some things even advertising can’t hide. Like the fact this streaming device features a camera and integrated far-field microphones, making it capable of watching and listening to people as they watch TV in their living rooms. Sure, Animal makes it look like a harmless good time (at the 38-second mark), but now imagine that device in the hands of the same people who oversaw a security breach that resulted in the data of up to 87 million users harvested without permission by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. As my Fast Company colleague Jared Newman wrote last October, “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 no amount of Miss Piggy cooing, “Oh Kermeeeeeeee . . .” should soften your heart to the potential privacy risks associated with software development kits (SDKs) that are already collecting reams of data on all of us, often without our knowledge. Maybe in the next spot they’ll adapt the Muppet Show theme to something more Portal-related . . .

It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
It’s time to let Facebook see and hear what we’re all doing tonight

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

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