back to article Facebook's new always-listening home appliance kit Portal doesn't do Facebook

It's always listening to you and comes from a division of Facebook run by the former head of US military madtech arm DARPA*, so what could possibly be creepy about Facebook's new hardware experiment, Portal? Facebook bills Portal as a video-calling device designed to always be on – making distant friends and relatives more …

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Maybe Zuck should have a word with Lord Sugar?

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Maybe Zuck should have a word with Lord Sugar?

Of course, Sugar's Amstrad made a similar device of its own once upon a time. I actually knew someone who had one of the first-generation devices...

Edit. Here's a better link

M.

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"Trust us, pleads Zuck"

Is he pleading with us or commanding us?

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"Trust us, pleads Zuck"

Go fuck yourself zuck.

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WTF?

Why would anyone want to buy some dedicated Facebook hardware that replicates something they already have on their phone/tablet if they've bought into the Facebook walled garden, while being useless for communicating with anybody outside it? I just don't get it.

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Re: WTF?

Maybe it's supposed to appeal to the growing crowd of facebook haters ?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZY8jUuEzJQ

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Re: WTF?

How could it appeal to them, though? It's from Facebook. That it doesn't use the Facebook website means nothing.

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Re: WTF?

How apt!

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Re: WTF?

It's a common thing here in the comments section to forget *we* are not the target market,

Loads of people will, initially, eat this up. Just like Alexa/google home etc. If it sticks around longer than one iteration is the question.

Just because 'we' think it's mental, doesn't mean the other 8 people in a sample of ten will think it is.

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Re: WTF?

Looks like this could be made into a cheap video conferencing system. If so then I am sure someone will buy it.

Small business looks for video conferencing at the moment and just goes "How much!!!"

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Re: WTF?

It's a common thing here in the comments section to forget *we* are not the target market,

True.

We are, however, a fairly good representative group of the informed consumer market. Any device we'd have misgivings about should be looked at with rather more suspicion.

Of course, these days, experts etc. no one listens to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WTF?

Of course, these days, experts etc. no one listens to.

There aren't any experts any more.

That product we just bought has 10,000 five star reviews, bought from China for ten cents each; the single one-star review came from a guy who bought it for his daughter but she was out when the postman came round.

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Re: WTF?

Why would anyone buy an speaker with an assitant such as Alexa when they have an Android and iPhone device with similar capabilities?

I don't get that either, which means it might be some sort of fad and end up in most peoples home.

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Re: WTF?

The target market appears to be the same as the target market for the Amstrad Em@iler, which didn't exist back then, and is even less likely to exist now that our phones can do these things.

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Re: WTF?

"It's a common thing here in the comments section to forget *we* are not the target market"

I see this comment from time to time but I don't think it's true, for the most part. Most people here are well aware that they aren't representative of the general public. The comment you're replying to doesn't imply that he thinks he's representative, either. He's expressing genuine confusion about why people would buy this thing, which implicitly admits that he isn't.

All that said, Facebook is consistently losing users, particularly those who are under 30 -- so I think the general public is actually starting to become aware that Facebook is a bad deal and should be avoided.

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Re: WTF?

It's from Facebook. That it doesn't use the Facebook website means nothing.

Every other device like this snoops, so we should believe Facebook that they won't be data mining using this device? I do think they're hoping the P.T. Barnum philosophy will kick in.

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Re: WTF?

All that said, Facebook is consistently losing users, particularly those who are under 30 --

They're growing up, starting families, and suddenly realize they don't have time for Facebook. Plus, at that age they pretty much get beyond "here's a pic of today's dinner" or similar stuff.

so I think the general public is actually starting to become aware that Facebook is a bad deal and should be avoided.

Some are becoming aware but only those who read the news and saw the farce in front of Congress and Parliament . The rest, not so much.

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Re: WTF?

"Facebook is consistently losing users, particularly those who are under 30 -- so I think the general public is actually starting to become aware that Facebook is a bad deal and should be avoided."

I suspect that might be more "Argh, my parents are on Facebook now", it's no longer cool.

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Re: WTF?

Obligatory - almost relevant - XKCD reference

https://www.xkcd.com/937/

And the same with an explanation...

https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/937:_TornadoGuard

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"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

Yet.

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Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

Don't they have an analytics firm in Cambridge to do that sort of menial task?

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Big Brother

Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

But it can record the length of the call, who you spoke to, the time of day when you spoke to them, and links to products and events that you mentioned during the call - that's not "listening", that's data analysis.

I assume that it connects to the network via Wi-Fi, so the device can record all network devices in the environment too, if it passes on the network ID's then they can follow both participants after the conversation ends.

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Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

Expected weasely words:

> "Facebook doesn't listen to,

... because 'listen' isn't the actual way we refer to computer processing and storage of even more data about you.

>view

Ditto.

>or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,

Because we don't describe them as 'Portal video calls', (We do keep all the data associated with actual video calls', though, or course. And you were so dumb (*) that we fooled you, again, like the utter dumbsters (*) you are).

(*) Or 'dumbfucks,' as our glorious leader famously described you.

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vir
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Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

Yet.

The FAQ "Does Portal Have Ads?" contains the ominous response:

Portal does not have Facebook ads at this time [emphasis added, but not entirely necessary].

Conveniently, the Portal TOS are not readily accessible - just the improbably "Frequently Asked Questions" for a product that hasn't been released yet - a great example of Pynchon's maxim: "if they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers".

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Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

@Neil Charles

"rogue engineer"....."deeply sorry"....."committed to blah safety, blah privacy"

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Re: "Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls,"

But Alexa probably can!

One should ask the question; 'Why has Zuckerborg gone for Alexa?'

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Yeah right

"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls," the company said. You can turn off the camera and mic with a double tap, and delete your entire voice history with one command.

I seriously doubt that anything in that paragraph is true... apart from 'the company said' bit.

It also missed out 'process your video calls to extract data' that's different from viewing them etc.

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Re: Yeah right

Exactly: when it comes down to it, they really don't care about the actual data stream; it's far too diffuse to justify the bandwidth or storage cost. What they really want is the condensed version that flags preferences, demographic data, economic indicators - the kind of info their ad machine can really use.

There's enough wiggle room in their statement to hide a whole elephant's weight in data gathering and enough bad-faith moves on their part to deny them the barest benefit of doubt.

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Big Brother

Don't forget the duct tape!

You can turn off the camera and mic with a double tap

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/06/22/zuck_covers_mic_and_cam_sharing_not_always_good/

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Re: Don't forget the duct tape!

So, should I use my .38 for the double tap, or my .45 ACP? What kind of backstop is good for this?

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Re: Don't forget the duct tape!

Would a heavy iron skillet be suitable? Would ruin the finish though. Seems like a bit of a waste..

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Re: Don't forget the duct tape!

I was going to go with .303 British. Somewhat overpowered for the task, but enfields have a pretty good rate of fire in the right hands :-)

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"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls," the company said.

Translation: We created a shell company that is not called "Facebook" to do all those things.

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If this device comes with Alexa built in, then I suppose the shell company is called "Amazon.com". I can't help but notice that the statement didn't mention what Amazon would be doing with the data, or who they'd be sharing it with.

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Bets on how long before buy-outs lead to Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, LinkedIn (*), match.com (grindr... toomanyfish... AshleyMadison...), Experian, etc., banks, retailers, political affiliations, etc., etc., etc. surveillance data all belonging to one company...?

And which country will own it? (My money's currently on Vlad's rather than Donny's, based on brain cells. Or maybe others).

(*) Already on the way.

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"And which country will own it?"

None. It will be a multinational, like Google, Facebook, etc., without any real allegiance to any nation at all. The real question is: which countries will it own?

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The real question is: which countries will it own?

Obvious answer... all of them.

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eVilla?

Is that Cruella's sister?

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Re: eVilla?

No. Aston's.

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FAIL

No.

Simple enough?

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Zoom lens

Ideal for checking out which brand goods you have in your home! It could be having a good look round when no-one's watching...

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Re: Zoom lens

What happens when one of the subjects in the frame is exposing, er, "naughty bits", breast feeding, man-boobs etc? Does the system pixelate or cut the video feed?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Zoom lens

Its got Alexa ....so wait for the "people with your sofa also have this coffee table" emails from Amazon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Zoom lens

What happens when one of the subjects in the frame is exposing, er, "naughty bits", breast feeding, man-boobs etc? Does the system pixelate or cut the video feed?

No - it immediately starts live-streaming to Twitch.

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Black Helicopters

"Facebook doesn't listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls," the company said claimed. You can appear to turn off the camera and mic with a double tap, and delete your entire voice history from the local Portal with one command.

FTFY

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So a videophone, like in the 70s....... and we all remember what a hit that was.

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FAIL

But it doesn't make juice?

Two fails in one. First fail is that this clearly exists for no reason except that somebody wants subscription fees and marketing data. Second, massively failed computer designs are always displayed in a kitchen. Over-priced, under-powered, enormous computers for your kitchen countertop to help you manage recopies, cook, and send e-mails. Smart appliances collecting marketing information, offering sponsored advice, and giving hackers something to play with. Now here's a video chat application turned into a bulky and expensive appliance...and it's shown in a kitchen with people helping each other cook. Who seriously wants to do that? How did this again come to exist as a marketing segment?!?!

"Portal" looks like a tablet computer with a motorized swivel stand. JUST SELL A MOTORIZED SWIVEL STAND.

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Anonymous Coward

Facebook can't even give away Oculus

A device that has some utility to some users.

And now they're pushing more hardware???

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Does Gerry Anderson's estate get a cut for him inventing this?

I hope the eyes of the caller's picture light up when they call.

Note for Milennials: Don't worry, you won't know what this post is about.

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Re: Does Gerry Anderson's estate get a cut for him inventing this?

FAB

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