Facebook backtracks, says data from Portal devices may inform ad targeting

Facebook backtracks, says data from Portal devices may inform ad targeting

Facebook added that the information might be used to inform the ads that users can see on their feeds. If that reasoning is correct, it could be at least a few months before Facebook launches its TV add-on.

In other words, a Facebook device that you'd actually pay for will still collect data that could then make Facebook more money off you.

Portal's wide-angle camera can track people during a video chat, and keep subjects in focus even if they move throughout a room. However, he clarified that data about who you call and data about which apps you use on Portal can be used to target you with ads on other Facebook-owned properties. Like Portal, Ripley would enable video calling.

So, some users may find it concerning that Facebook's new Portal and Portal+ smart camera devices can in fact be used to facilitate targeted ads. But regardless of the name, it's sure to encounter heavy skepticism due to Facebook's history of privacy and security troubles.

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Ads are obviously where Facebook makes its money, though it's not clear whether Facebook's original claim - that it would not collect data from Portal users - was a simple mistake by its communications team, or something less innocent. Featuring high-quality speakers to allow flawless streaming from apps like Spotify and is powered by Amazon's Alexa voice assistant.

In addition, Facebook is said to be building a camera-equipped device that viewers attach to their TVs.

Facebook was already facing significant obstacles with its entry into the highly competitive in-home smart device market, and this news is likely to do little to ensure consumers and marketers that personal data is being safeguarded. While Facebook's Portal now doesn't show ads, video streams from third-party sources like YouTube may have ad insertions like they do on mobile devices and desktop computers.

It goes without saying, meanwhile, that Facebook's hardware ambitions - which of course also go way beyond the two projects above - will only go so far if trust in the company remains as much of an intractable problem as it is today.

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