A few days back Facebook admitted to Portal not to use it for promotional purposes. Now you row back. The data could be used for targeting.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the recent data hack, Facebook last week presented its smart home device portal prominently. It was of course particularly important to the privacy of the users have been laid and it had been assured that the data collected would not be used for advertising on Facebook. What was hard to imagine a few days back is now a fallacy. Because Facebook confirms that data from video calls could be used for targeting.
U-turn to Portal is no surprise
Recently, we talked about the launch of Facebook’s Smart Home screen Portal and wondered if the claims that you do not want to use data for promotional purposes should be taken very seriously in the context of Facebook’s business model. The official website said:
Facebook does not listen to, or keep track of the contents of your video video calls. Your Portal conversations between you and the people you are calling.
In addition, a Facebook employee in conversation with Recode stated:
No data collected through portal – even call log data or app usage data, like the fact that you are listening to.
These insurance policies are now as flimsy as they had been before. Because Kurt Wagner now reports to Recode that Facebook has revised his answer a bit. Although no ads are planned for Portal itself, you can use the data that arise when using apps via the portal or video calls, but for targeting on other platforms in the Facebook cosmos.
Wagner quotes a Facebook spokesperson as follows:
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 (ie usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) , We may use this information to inform you about 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.
However, the cautious wording “may use” should leave no doubt that the use of the data is intended for advertising. After all, Facebook’s business model is designed for that. The company may also generate revenue by selling the devices. But above all, it is the specific knowledge of user behavior that can be monetized best.
Facebook’s vice president of product management, Rafa Camargo, told Recode that they could use the data, but he did not know if that would happen. That the possibility is ultimately not used, is about as likely as the scenario in which Google has developed his criticized search app for China only as a test balloon in order not then bring this on the market.
A smart home device with video focus and microphones positioned in many living rooms and other spaces is an excellent way to identify personal information and then use it for specific targeting. And after all, Facebook has now moved away from the implausible attitude that this is by no means planned. One may be curious, however, how many devices will eventually sell in the course of the delicate data losses of the past few weeks and months. Here the users have to find a balance between entertainment and privacy; because Facebook will take care of only limited.