It sounded a little slippery last week, when Facebook announced Portal, a new voice-activated speaker and video chat gadget, and the company said that it would not use data collected through the device to target ads. It was, in fact, very slippery. Facebook just admitted that Portal is completely capable of collecting data about you and using that data to target ads. But don’t worry, Facebook probably won’t do this right away.
The miscommunication is confusing to say the least. Recode originally reported that “no data collected through Portal… will be used to target users with ads on Facebook.” Now, a full week later, Facebook has recanted that claim. Despite the fact that the company had said no data collected will be used for ad targeting, the Portal is fully capable of being a data-collection monster, and that data can absolutely be used for ad targeting. The company said in a statement:
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 (i.e. usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls) that we collect on other Messenger-enabled devices. We may use this information to inform the ads we show you across 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.