What’s in a technology name? That depends on the name being used. For Apple, years of releasing quality, cutting-edge products have made it a trusted, buzz brand. For Facebook, a legacy of privacy breaches, fake news, user manipulation, lying to Congress and the public, and massive data leaks and violations has earned it a well-deserved reputation of duplicity and derision.
Within that environment, Facebook released Facebook Portal and Portal+ in November 2018. A digital assistant with video chat capabilities may sound great, but when produced by Facebook, it’s the last thing in the world you should ever want in your home or within view or earshot anywhere.
The truth is Portal is spyware, plain and simple. Their ad saying “you are in control” is a farce. Facebook is offering to put their spyware (Portal) in your home so they can listen, watch, and monitor virtually everything you are doing and saying. Facebook already does that with your devices. Now it wants to do it in your home.
Despite the truckloads of money Facebook has pumped into marketing Portal, it seems that the Portal has so far been a dud. Who would have thought that a home spy-camera from the world’s least trusted company wouldn’t fly off the shelves?
In fact, it’s gotten so bad that Facebook employees were just busted for leaving raving, 5-star reviews about Portal on Amazon. Note to Facebook: Amazon prohibits writing reviews for your own products — even if said product integrates with one of theirs!
As I told MarketWatch back in October, the “Portal is the worst imaginable service the company has yet perpetrated on unsuspecting users. It’s all for data, so they can manipulate your Facebook newsfeed and your mind under the false auspices of serving you. The Portal could listen to everything about your personal interests, curiosities, purchasing habits, etc. The voice recognition technology could identify consumers, even if the camera is blocked.”
If you’re still not convinced of the danger Portal presents, consider these five reasons (there are plenty more) for why you should stay far, far away from this product.
1) Facebook is the world’s largest spy agency, with an addiction to your data
Facebook is an addict, and user data is its cocaine. The company frames itself as a social network, but that would imply its core mission is to connect the world, not collect its data. Facebook’s entire business model requires it to vacuum up as much data as possible, and the company does so without user consent or transparency. Portal just opens another door to go deeper and steal more data than Facebook has been able to before.
2) Portal violates EVERYONE’s privacy, including friends, family, and non-users
Portal gives Facebook an open door to spy on people who are not even Facebook users. Family, friends, everyone is fair game to be spied upon, just the way Facebook wants it. Portal uses facial recognition to watch everyone and everything in your home, Portal uses voice recognition to match voices with their owners and that enables Facebook to collect data on your conversations as well as who is saying what.
3) Portal integrates with Amazon’s Alexa
That means yet another outlet for Portal’s privacy invasion. In this instance, information comes out of your mouth into Alexa’s ears and lands on Facebook’s data servers. Your personal interests and curiosities become defining bytes of information to be used against you by advertisers. With Facebook’s sophisticated voice recognition technology, even if you block the camera, Portal collects and recognizes your verbal utterances, adding even more data into their data vault to target you.
4) Like all Facebook technology, Portal is cloaked in deceit
Facebook products are purposefully marketed as helpful when in fact the opposite is the case. Case in point, Portal sounds great, until you look behind the mask. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Facebook Messenger on your phone seemed harmless, until it got called out that Facebook was allegedly listening in on your phone’s microphone to all your calls and conversations, as well as even to the music you were streaming. As an aside, while Facebook emojis may be portrayed as harmless forms of expression, they’re really carefully analyzed data points of our emotions and reactions engineered by the company. Creepy!
5) Facebook knows literally everything about you, does nothing to protect your collected data, and now there’s a new mole called Portal
TechCrunch has reported that “Facebook knows everything about you. Behind every feature, Facebook is collecting data.” So where does that leave the mole called Portal? It is well documented that data on up to 220 million Americans or more is likely in the hands of the Russians, courtesy of Facebook/Cambridge Analytica. And this is the company we’re supposed to trust with our most sensitive information? And now welcome into our homes and bedrooms? Even when it comes to their subsidiary, WhatsApp, Facebook might encrypt messages, but everything else about WhatsApp members is fair game for Facebook’s data vacuum — who you talk to, when, for how long, where you are, and much more. Nothing gets in the way of Facebook’s access to your data, and unfortunately, nothing gets in the way of others also getting access to the data Facebook has collected — as they’ve demonstrated time and again.
So, who on Earth will buy this product? The younger demographic certainly won’t. They’ve been fleeing the social media platform in droves. According to a recent study, nearly half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 deleted Facebook from their phone in the past 12 months. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and what they’re telling us is that Facebook can take a hike. For everyone else, you can be sure that there are other ways to use video and connect with friends and family without sacrificing your privacy.
The point here is that Facebook will never learn. It’s deceptive business model and philosophy run contrary to what people want from technology, and Portal is its worst fraud yet in the promotion of a supposedly “helpful” device.
Facebook’s follies and missteps, now including the villainous Portal device, are why MeWe is roaring in 2019 after becoming the №1 Trending Social App in the Google Play Store multiple days in December 2018, while also achieving 405% growth during the year. As its founder as well as a social media pioneer and leading privacy advocate, I have made sure MeWe is engineered with no ads, no spyware, no targeting, no facial recognition, no newsfeed manipulation, no political bias, and NO BS.
People are sick of hearing about Facebook’s mistakes and oversights. Portal is just the latest example of the failed Facebook experiment.
This isn’t an indictment of social media, which will continue to grow and thrive, but rather of companies like Facebook that fail to respect and protect their users. People have had enough. The only real portal that Facebook ultimately provides is a view of the company’s bleak future and sordid past. The future belongs to companies like MeWe.