Facebook waffles on Portal video chat device privacy, can be used for ad data

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2018
Facebook's recently launched Portal video calling devices could help the social network target advertising towards its users, it has been revealed, with data collected by the hardware potentially combined with other information for marketing purposes.




Launched on October 8, the Portal and Portal+ are devices primarily intended for use in video conferencing with other users, with Facebook Messenger handling calls between participants. At the launch, Facebook stressed the privacy credentials for the device range, including that it doesn't monitor or retain the encrypted calls, and the use of physical and mechanical elements to disconnect the camera.

Following reports claiming no data would be collected from Portal for advertising purposes, the social network has since admitted that some data does get collected. In a statement provided to Recode, Facebook advises that, while the Portal does not show advertising, data about who users call and the apps used on the device can be used in advertising decisions on other Facebook-owned services.

"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," a spokesperson told the report. "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."

Initial reports on the lack of data collection were caused in part by information provided by Facebook executives during the device's launch. Portal product VP Rafa Camargo clarified to the report that the data could be used for targeted advertising, but the team doesn't intend to use the data itself as it it doesn't display advertising, though it could potentially be used elsewhere.

The clarification comes at a time when the company is under scrutiny for its actions, following a number of serious events. The Cambridge Analytica scandal saw user data being acquired from the social network via unauthorized means and used by political analysts to refine campaigns.

More recently, it was discovered a security breach where user's security tokens were acquired by an attacker potentially allowed profile details for approximately 30 million users to be acquired, including names, addresses, and other sensitive personal information.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    JonInAtlwilliamlondonlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,421member
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Which messenger?
    Whatsapp and iMessage are ad free, at least in the part of the world I live in.
    baconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,421member
    So, don’t use FB and FB devices!
    baconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 13
    irelandireland Posts: 17,659member
    Zuck is detached and calculating.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Get an Ad Blocker app. I installed one on my iOS devices and it has made a huge difference. Sure sites send you to a whine page "we pay for this site through the use of ads", but it's their own fault. If the ads weren't so pushy and obnoxious then I wouldn't block them. Ex.: Cult-of-Mac where without exception any video they post had a GoogleAd over it making the video unwatchable.
    jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    roakeroake Posts: 652member
    It’s hard to believe Facebook would launch their spy machine at the height of controversy over them fumbling data to hacks.

    Facebook, where your security is irrelevant!
    jbdragonbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,164member
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Without ads you’ll pay real money for everything you want to watch, period. I’m not defending advertisers but that’s how the world works. The alternative is taxpayer funded content and I don’t think you would like that. And if you can afford to pay for everything what about those who can’t? Do they just sit there in front of a blank screen? Wait, maybe they could go to the library and check out a book to read instead. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,164member

    DAalseth said:
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Get an Ad Blocker app. I installed one on my iOS devices and it has made a huge difference. Sure sites send you to a whine page "we pay for this site through the use of ads", but it's their own fault. If the ads weren't so pushy and obnoxious then I wouldn't block them. Ex.: Cult-of-Mac where without exception any video they post had a GoogleAd over it making the video unwatchable.
    I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but when ad blockers become ubiquitous the advertisers will figure it out and funding for sites like Cult-of-Mac will dry up along with the site itself. Typically I would think the same people who use ad blockers also refuse to pay for access to sites like the one you mention, thinking all this content costs nothing and should be free. Sites like AI offer paid options to eliminate ads and I’d love to know how many users take them up on it. Not many I’d bet. I’d like to know your solution to the ad problem other than if they weren’t so “pushy and obnoxious”. How does one define that other than personal bias?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,730member
    lkrupp said:

    DAalseth said:
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Get an Ad Blocker app. I installed one on my iOS devices and it has made a huge difference. Sure sites send you to a whine page "we pay for this site through the use of ads", but it's their own fault. If the ads weren't so pushy and obnoxious then I wouldn't block them. Ex.: Cult-of-Mac where without exception any video they post had a GoogleAd over it making the video unwatchable.
    I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but when ad blockers become ubiquitous the advertisers will figure it out and funding for sites like Cult-of-Mac will dry up along with the site itself. Typically I would think the same people who use ad blockers also refuse to pay for access to sites like the one you mention, thinking all this content costs nothing and should be free. Sites like AI offer paid options to eliminate ads and I’d love to know how many users take them up on it. Not many I’d bet. I’d like to know your solution to the ad problem other than if they weren’t so “pushy and obnoxious”. How does one define that other than personal bias?

    Well, I don't mind paying for content; but the content has to be good. It has to be spell-checked at least.  You need to come up with something that folk are willing to pay for; trawling the internet for stories that have already been seen doesn't qualify.

    Well an ad that starts playing a video with sound as as soon as you enter the site? I would think that's pushy and obnoxious in most folks' book; not to mention a serious wedge of bandwidth for something I'm not going to click on because I'm already annoyed by the obnoxious thing.

    Take your point though; they need to make money, or we're going to have to either suck it up or cough up.

    I do subscribe to a couple of UK newspapers though. Not sure I would have done if I hadn't stopped travelling by train, thereby losing the opportunity to read copies left on the seat.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,730member
    roake said:
    It’s hard to believe Facebook would launch their spy machine at the height of controversy over them fumbling data to hacks.

    Facebook, where your security is irrelevant!
    It does seem poorly timed.

    Maybe they figure it's best to get the crap out of the way in one go, instead of having to go through it again in six months time.

    Dunno
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    This whole thing surprises who exactly?
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,447member
    This goes in the "not only no, but hell no" category.

    More @internetofshit ;
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    lkrupp said:

    DAalseth said:
    peterhart said:
    Ads, ads, ads. I'm so tired of ads. Not that I'll buy nor use this thing, but I'm just over the ads. I hate using Messenger now with ads appearing in that. You just can't escape them. <Sigh>
    Get an Ad Blocker app. I installed one on my iOS devices and it has made a huge difference. Sure sites send you to a whine page "we pay for this site through the use of ads", but it's their own fault. If the ads weren't so pushy and obnoxious then I wouldn't block them. Ex.: Cult-of-Mac where without exception any video they post had a GoogleAd over it making the video unwatchable.
    I’m just playing devil’s advocate here but when ad blockers become ubiquitous the advertisers will figure it out and funding for sites like Cult-of-Mac will dry up along with the site itself. Typically I would think the same people who use ad blockers also refuse to pay for access to sites like the one you mention, thinking all this content costs nothing and should be free. Sites like AI offer paid options to eliminate ads and I’d love to know how many users take them up on it. Not many I’d bet. I’d like to know your solution to the ad problem other than if they weren’t so “pushy and obnoxious”. How does one define that other than personal bias?
    You make a good point, ads fund content. However I disagree that funding for sites will dry up. I don't think everything will go to pay content. 
    This is a battle that goes in cycles. Advertisers find a way to get their message out. All is fine until they become so pushy that it becomes annoying and users find a way to block it. The method becomes ineffectual so advertisers move on to another method.  I've seen this cycle repeat itself several times. Remember pop under ads? Remember those ads that would unfold in front of your screen if you rolled over a hidden keyword? (My favourite was when The Mac Observer was using those and every time your mouse went over the word Macintosh or Mac, a full screen Dell ad would appear. With a hidden Close X.) The currant crop of ads in everything is already becoming ineffectual as users find ways to block or avoid them. Because of this advertisers are exploring other ways of getting their message out. The cycle will continue 
    gatorguywatto_cobra
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