Portal use may affect ads you get on Facebook-owned services

MANILA, Philippines – Facebook's Portal video-calling devices will not have ads on it, but using the new device could potentially affect what ads you see on other Facebook-owned services, the company explained to tech news website Recode on Tuesday, October 16 (October 17, Manila time).

Last October 8, Facebook said none of the data collected through Portal use, such as app usage data or call log data, would be used to target users with ads on Facebook. (READ: Facebook launches Portal, an AI video-calling device)

The social media company later emailed Recode to clarify the point. 

A Facebook spokesperson explained that Portal's voice calls are built on Messenger's infrastructure, and as such it collects the same information – such as call length and call frequency – as 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," the spokesperson concluded, contradicting earlier statements regarding Portal.

The confusion stems from whether this affects Portal or not. While Portal itself is ad-free, the information it grabs can be used for ads on other services Facebook owns, if it wanted to.

Rafa Camargo, product Vice President for Portal, went on to follow up the contradiction by apologizing for sharing inaccurate info. While this data can be used for ad targeting, Camargo said he doesn’t know if it will be, adding, "Potentially, it could be used."

The confusion and lack of consistent messaging also does not explain the extent of the data Facebook collects, and how it goes about protecting what it collects.

At a time when Facebook is under fire for getting hacked to acquire that data, further transparency may be helpful in assuaging fears people may have regarding placing a camera-and-microphone setup that tracks movement inside the home. – Rappler.com