Facebook's joined Google and Apple in the world of smart displays with the Facebook Portal and Portal Plus. These two displays are designed primarily with video calling in mind and have Amazon's Alexa voice assistant on board, plus Facebook's own "Hey, Portal" voice service.Interested in getting one? Here's what you need to know.What does Facebook Portal do?The Portal is a new way to video chat with your Facebook buddies. Think about how many times you've video messaged someone with your phone and your arm's cramped from holding the camera just right. That's not a problem with the Portal. The unit sits on a desk or table and the camera follows you as you walk in a 140-degree field of view, so you can talk to someone completely hands-free while you do other things. The camera can automatically pan and zoom to focus on you, even when you're in a room full of people. It also has a voice-enhancing microphone. Who is this for?The people most likely to buy … [Read more...] about 7 things you need to know about Facebook Portal
The Controversies and the Facts The first time you get hit with a targeted ad, a suggestion for a new friend or something else that seems based on your personal information, it can be a little intimidating. It's almost like there are elves in that machine, picking out ads just for you. And, of course, that's pretty much exactly what's going on -- only instead of elves, it's computer servers, and they don't know anything about you, or care. They just take a list of everybody who's interested in soccer, for example -- whether they've posted about recent news or games, clicked "like" on a team or event, or listed themselves as playing for a team -- and then push the same soccer-oriented ad toward everybody. The elves never even know your name. Facebook uses and shares your personal information in many ways that basically operate on this same principle: By aggregating it (making a big pile of the data), they make sure that you're not personally attached to the information itself. After … [Read more...] about Is Facebook sharing your personal information?
In a suite at San Francisco's Four Seasons hotel, Rafa Camargo, a vice president at Facebook's secretive Building 8 hardware lab, sits on a couch discussing the speed of light.He's explaining the physics behind how sound and video travel, and why there might be a delay if two people tried to, say, sing a song together over a video call. It isn't necessarily something a Facebook executive might obsess over, but it's particularly important for the social network's latest project.On Monday, Facebook unveiled the Portal and Portal Plus, two video chat devices designed to make it feel as if you're hanging out in the same room with family and friends who happen to be thousands of miles away -- hopefully without any discernible audio delay. The debut of the first Facebook-branded piece of consumer hardware puts the company in head-to-head competition with Google and Amazon for real estate in the home. That could be a tough sell with consumers, who may have second thoughts about adding another … [Read more...] about Facebook’s Portal video device launches amid privacy concerns
Are you ready to let Facebook put a connected camera into your home? The embattled social network is in the middle of a years-long PR clusterfuck owing to a series of privacy screwups, an on-going moderation catastrophe, and most recently, sleazy political tactics. That said, it’s still a communication method used by billions, and it’s probably running in the background on your phone or laptop right now. So maybe a more precise question is: Would you invite even more of Facebook’s mess into your home if it was offering a cool gadget to help you better keep in touch with family and friends? That’s the primary selling point of its new Portal devices. The in-home smart displays are basically sophisticated video chat boxes (with scary microphones and cameras!), and they’ve certainly got some fancy tricks that might lead even a rational, self-aware human to consider buying into Facebook’s bullshit, and in the process, potentially trading in privacy … [Read more...] about The Big Problem With Facebook’s Portal Devices Has Nothing to Do With How Great They Are
In the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook promised users a tool that would give them back some power over how extensively they can be tracked online. That was seven months ago. In May, Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his personal page ahead of F8 that the company would roll out a feature called Clear History. It would afford users the option to view what third-party websites and apps send Facebook data based on their activity, as well as both prevent that data from being associated with their Facebook account and stop the social network from storing that data in connection with their account in the future. As Zuckerberg noted, users’ browsing history includes information like “what you’ve clicked on, websites you’ve visited, and so on.” “Apps and websites that use features such as the Like button or Facebook Analytics send us information to make their content and ads better,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s VP and Chief Privacy … [Read more...] about Facebook’s Post-Cambridge Analytica