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|Release date||November 8, 2018|
Facebook Portal is a brand of smart displays and videophones developed in 2018 by Facebook, Inc. The product line consists of four models (Portal, Portal Plus, Portal Mini, and Portal TV) that provide video chat via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, augmented by a camera that can automatically zoom and track people's movements. The devices are integrated with Amazon's voice-controlled intelligent personal assistant service Alexa. Facebook uses some types of data collected from Portal devices for targeted advertising.
Reviewers rated the Portal line's video and audio handling capabilities positively, but criticized Facebook's privacy practices for data captured by Portal devices.
On October 8, 2018, Facebook Inc. announced the sale and shipment of the 10.1-inch (25.7 cm) Portal and the 15.6-inch (39.6 cm) Portal Plus. The second generation of Portal devices was announced on September 18, 2019; the second-generation Portal and Portal Mini were released on October 15, while Portal TV was released on November 5.
According to Facebook, the Portal devices only record audio after the user speaks the "Hey Portal" command, and only record video during video calling sessions. Each Portal device also includes a cover that can be slid over the camera when not in use.
During the product announcement, Facebook initially claimed that data obtained from Portal devices would not be used for targeted advertising. One week after the announcement, Facebook changed its position and stated that "usage data such as length of calls, frequency of calls" and "general usage data, such as aggregate usage of apps, etc., may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads". The company later clarified that it analyzes the metadata, not the content, of video calls made through Portal devices.
In a PC Magazine review, Sascha Segan said, "From a purely technical standpoint, this is by far the best video calling appliance we've seen", and believed that Portal would be a good complement for telecommuters if it gains integration with Workplace by Facebook, a feature that is not yet released. However, Segan considered Portal a "horror" from "a policy and privacy perspective" because of the "massive abuses of data on Facebook's consumer platform". Writing for Tom's Guide, Mike Prospero and Monica Chin criticized the "large and obtrusive" size of the display, characterizing it as "dystopian" and "more at home in a Black Mirror episode than in my living room or kitchen". The reviewers echoed "Ongoing privacy concerns", but presented a favorable impression of Portal's automatic panning and audio quality.
In Engadget, Nicole Lee complimented the second-generation Portal's subdued appearance and ability to be used in both portrait and landscape orientations. Adrienne So of Wired highlighted Portal's video tracking and augmented reality features, but denounced Facebook's inclination to "default to sharing more, not less".
Segan's review of the Portal TV in PC Magazine contrasted the device's competitive video calling capabilities with its "thin" support for streaming media services, and criticized Facebook's data security record. In a negative CNET review, Wollerton stated that the Portal TV is "a solidly performing, decently priced device that just isn't suited for anyone because of the privacy concerns and increasingly alarming issues" affecting Facebook.
On January 17, 2019, The New York Times columnist Kevin Roose posted on Twitter that Facebook Portal's Amazon product listing contained five-star reviews that appeared to have been written by Facebook employees, including one who claimed to have "historically not been a big Facebook or other social media user" before purchasing Portal. These reviews were written in violation of Amazon's community guidelines, which forbid "creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services". In response, Facebook's augmented and virtual-reality vice president Andrew Bosworth stated that the reviews were "neither coordinated nor directed from the company" and indicated that Facebook would instruct the employees to remove them.
- Calore, Michael (October 8, 2018). "Facebook Made You a Smart-Home Device With a Camera on It". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
- Kelion, Leo (October 8, 2018). "Facebook Portal video chat screens raise privacy concerns". BBC News. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
- Constine, John (October 8, 2018). "Facebook launches Portal auto-zooming video chat screens for $199/$349". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
- Newman, Peter (October 9, 2018). "Facebook unveils Alexa-powered Portal smart speakers". Business Insider. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Smith, Dave (October 15, 2018). "The curious timing of Facebook's first hardware product, the $200 'Portal'". Business Insider. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Kastrenakes, Jacob (November 8, 2018). "Facebook's Portal video chat devices launch today". The Verge. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
- Seifert, Dan (November 8, 2018). "Facebook Portal review: trust fail". The Verge. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Nguyen, Nicole (September 18, 2019). "Facebook Really, Really Wants To Open A Portal Inside Your House". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
- Notopoulos, Katie (November 5, 2019). "It's A Shame You'll Never Buy The Facebook Portal TV". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
- Wagner, Kurt (October 8, 2018). "Facebook is audaciously launching a video gadget for your home, called Portal. Is that a good idea?". Vox. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Koebler, Jason; Rogers, Kaleigh (October 8, 2018). "Facebook Knows You Don't Want to Trust Its Portal Camera". Vice. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Wagner, Kurt (October 16, 2018). "It turns out that Facebook could in fact use data collected from its Portal in-home video device to target you with ads". Vox. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Chin, Monica (October 17, 2018). "Whoops! Facebook Portal Collects User Data After All". Tom's Guide. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Wong, Queenie (November 7, 2018). "Facebook Portal: Your privacy questions answered". CNET. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Wollerton, Megan (November 8, 2018). "Facebook's Portal Plus brings your friends and family closer for a price". CNET. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Segan, Sascha (November 28, 2018). "Facebook Portal". PC Magazine. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Prospero, Mike; Chin, Monica (January 18, 2019). "Facebook Portal Review: A Not-So-Smart Display". Tom's Guide. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
- Lee, Nicole (October 15, 2019). "Facebook Portal review (2019): A redesign doesn't ease privacy fears". Engadget. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
- So, Adrienne (October 16, 2019). "My Parents and Kids Love Facebook's Portal. I'm Not So Sure". Wired. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
- Segan, Sascha (November 8, 2019). "Facebook Portal TV". PC Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
- Wollerton, Megan (November 5, 2019). "No one should buy the Facebook Portal TV". CNET. Retrieved November 16, 2019.
- Holt, Kris (January 17, 2019). "Facebook employees caught leaving five-star Amazon reviews for Portal". Engadget. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Al-Heeti, Abrar (January 17, 2019). "Facebook employees appear to have left 5-star Amazon reviews for Portal". CNET. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Roose, Kevin [@kevinroose] (January 27, 2019). "Speaking of coordinated inauthentic behavior, what are the odds that all these 5-star Facebook Portal reviewers on Amazon just happen to have the same names as Facebook employees?" (Tweet). Archived from the original on January 27, 2019. Retrieved June 13, 2019 – via Twitter.
- Bhushan, Kul (January 18, 2019). "Facebook employees caught giving 5-star ratings to Portal smart speakers on Amazon". Hindustan Times. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Morse, Jack (January 17, 2019). "Facebook Portal reviews on Amazon appear to be padded with employee 5-star ratings". Mashable. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Gartenberg, Chaim (January 17, 2019). "Facebook employees busted leaving 5-star reviews for Portal on Amazon". The Verge. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- "Amazon.com Help: Profile & Community Guidelines". Amazon. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Thalen, Mikael (January 18, 2019). "Facebook staffers busted leaving 5-star reviews for Portal speaker". The Daily Dot. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- Boz [@boztank] (January 17, 2019). "neither coordinated nor directed from the company. From an internal post at the launch: 'We, unequivocally, DO NOT want Facebook employees to engage in leaving reviews for the products that we sell to Amazon.' We will ask them to take down" (Tweet). Retrieved June 13, 2019 – via Twitter.