Just recently, it was announced that Facebook will reportedly be releasing a new video chat product. By purchasing this device, however, people will essentially be allowing Facebook, a company with a questionable history when it comes to privacy, to put a camera and microphone into their homes, which could have dangerous implications.
Specifically, it was recently revealed that Facebook is planning on coming out with a new gadget for roughly $499 called “Portal.” According to reports, the device, which was designed by a secretive development department at the company known as “Building 8,” will have a 15-inch screen and a wide-angle camera with facial recognition. It’ll also have microphones that could be used to control it with one’s voice.
“Rather than position the device as a smart assistant akin to Amazon’s Echo speakers, Facebook intends to pitch Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features,” explained Alex Heath, a Senior Reporter at tech website Cheddar, in a recently published article about the new product.
“Like Amazon’s screen-equipped Echo Show, Facebook’s Portal is designed to work indoors and be controlled through voice commands. According to people familiar with Facebook’s plans, Portal will be equipped with a wide-angle lens that is capable of recognizing individual faces and associating them with their Facebook accounts,” he continued.
“Facebook also intends to let Portal access outside streaming services like Spotify and Netflix,” added Heath, noting, “the company recently signed sweeping music licensing deals with Sony/ATV and Universal Music Group.”
— Cheddar (@cheddar) January 9, 2018
Letting Facebook put cameras and microphones into one’s home, though, may not be a smart idea. For starters, the device could potentially be hacked by someone for nefarious reasons. This could result in people being blackmailed or end up in people’s homes being burglarized while they’re away from the house.
Another problem with purchasing the device is the fact that the company could possibly use the device’s cameras and microphones to secretly keep tabs on specific users. This could be especially problematic considering the fact that the social media platform has a history of unfairly targeting people who hold certain beliefs.
For example, Facebook recently removed a well-known Christian group’s Facebook page for speaking out against abortion and homosexuality. Apparently, doing so is in violation of their community standards because it’s “hateful and threatening.”
“We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual,” they continued in the message. “If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated,” they added, noting, “continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in the permanent loss of your account.”
Unsurprisingly, Penkoski, who insists that the ministry has done nothing wrong, was completely outraged by Facebook’s decision to remove them from their site. “These are not violations of community standards,” he argued while speaking to reporters. “Facebook may not like it but it is not a violation of anything. It is not hurtful. It is not obscene. It’s not attacking. It’s not threatening. We are Christians. We don’t do that,” he continued.
“We specifically ask Facebook, what exact standards of yours did we violate? People have seen what has happened to us with the death threats and everything else. That’s actual hate speech — calling for the death of someone else. I don’t care who does it. If you are Christian or not, that is hate speech,” Penkoski added, noting, “we have never done anything close to that. In fact, we have stated emphatically that we don’t want harm to come to anybody, whether they agree with us or not. Our job is to preach the truth because we want people to live better lives.”
Until Facebook improves its user privacy and stops unfairly censoring groups like the “Warriors for Christ,” the last thing that someone should be doing is allowing the social media platform to put microphones and cameras into their home. Because of this, purchasing the company’s new “Portal” may not be a very good idea.