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Facebook Portal Video Chat Screens Raise Privacy Concerns

Facebook Portal Video Chat Screens Raise Privacy Concerns

Facebook is launching two video call machines for the home in the midst of its latest data breach scandal.

The Portal products automatically zoom in on users and follow them as they move, to offer a superior experience to existing smartphone and tablet apps.

The devices rely on Facebook Messenger to make and receive calls and also feature Amazon's Alexa smart assistant.

But consumers may have privacy concerns and a rival device-maker suggested the very concept was "tech clutter".

"It's staggeringly unfortunate timing," commented Jeremy White, product editor at Wired UK magazine.

"News of the accounts being hacked broke the day before [Facebook's] product briefings.

"The question is whether people will ignore security concerns for the sake of a really convenient device."

Andrew Bosworth, the executive responsible for the launch, acknowledged the issue.

"We understand that inviting a camera and microphone into your home is the kind of thing that will give a consumer pause, especially for a new category of products around video calling that haven't been really common for consumers to have access to," he told the BBC.

"And so not one week ago nor six months ago, but two years ago we started on a privacy-first plan for this product."

The devices will go on sale in the US in November.

The BBC reports, Facebook intends to release them elsewhere but has yet to say when.

 

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