Six months ago, Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress vowing to protect user data after the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal, which affected 87 million users. More recently, the company reported a major hack which gave attackers access to 50 million accounts.
Just when you thought Facebook was devoting all its time and energy to cleaning up and restoring its brand image (let alone, ensuring that couldn’t occur again) they announced the launch Portal, a video-calling device meant to help users “connect with friends and family.”
Portal integrates technology from Amazon’s Alexa, enabling users to utilize Portal as they would utilize Alexa. “Portal feels less like a video call and more like you’re in the same room — even when you’re miles apart.”
Meet Portal and Portal+ from @Facebook. Stay and feel connected to your closest friends and family with smart, hands-free video calling. Portal makes it feel like you’re in the same room, even when you’re far apart. Follow us and learn more at https://t.co/UlIKzpTUe6 #Portal pic.twitter.com/srv8hZYA3a
— Portal from Facebook (@PortalFacebook) October 8, 2018
Facebook said the new device was “built with privacy and security in mind.” Additionally, the company promised not to “listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls” and for added security the device does not utilize facial recognition.
“Privacy is very, very, very important,” said Rafa Camargo, vice president of Portal on Monday, “We really made a conscious choice of not recording, so you have peace of mind.”
Geoffrey Fowler, a reporter from Washington Post, wrote that “the Portal is a sleek new video camera and screen that makes chats with family and friends look great. It has just one problem: it was made by Mark Zuckerberg.”
I want Portal, but from any company but Facebook. pic.twitter.com/PRr3kowWtD
— Jelle Prins (@jelleprins) October 8, 2018
One thing most can agree on is that Facebook needs a new source of growth. Recent projections reported that the company will be relying on ad revenue from Instagram in just two years time.
Reports indicate that it is unlikely that Portal becomes the next Alexa; however, if the device is widely successful like Amazon’s, the company might be able to take the breath of fresh air it’s been craving.