Facebook Portal

Warning: *Privacy Not Included with this product

Facebook Portal

Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021


Mozilla says

People voted: Super creepy

Let's be honest, Facebook has a pretty terrible track record when it comes to protecting their user's privacy (remember that record $5 billion dollar fine for privacy failures?). Now they're asking people to drop a couple hundred dollars to put a device with an AI-powered smart camera capable of tracking your every move and an Alexa-powered, always listening microphone in your home. What could go wrong? Given Facebook's terrible track record on privacy, we're worried a lot.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Facebook has a long history of betraying users' privacy and trust. They've faced record fines around the world for this and have been caught hiding data leaks from their users. Just as recently as April 2021, it was reported the personal information of more than 500 million Facebook users was shared online in a massive data leak. Couple that with recent Facebook whistleblower testimony to the US Congress that outlined the harms Facebook causes and the dishonest way they approach dealing with these harms and Facebook appears to be one of most immoral companies we review in *Privacy Not Included.

This is the starting point for a device you bring into your home with an AI-powered smart camera and microphone that sends data back to Facebook regularly. To use the device, consumers are required to have a Facebook or Whatsapp account (a Wokplace plan can also be used but those are paid business plans), another flag for us as Facebook collects and shares a large amount of user data and doesn’t always secure that data properly. The question comes down to, does Facebook have your best interests at heart when it collects all the data this device is capable of collecting? From Cambridge Analytica to where we are today, the answer to that question is a resounding NO. We're afraid this device comes with *privacy not included.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Check Facebook Portal privacy settings.
  • Keep your location data private
  • Stop data collection by Facebook’s partners
  • Note that when sharing data with third-parties services, the third-party privacy policy applies.
  • You can disable the camera and built-in microphone on Portal with a single tap or with a sliding switch. A red light next to the lens indicates the camera and microphone are off.
  • mobile

Can it snoop on me? information


Device: Yes

App: Yes


Device: Yes

App: Yes

Tracks location

Device: Yes

App: Yes

What can be used to sign up?

Facebook or WhatsApp account is required

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Facebook says it does not sell any of your information to anyone, and never will. However, it shares data with numerous third parties such as partners who use their analytics services, advertisers, measurement partners, partners offering goods and services in Facebook products, vendors and service providers, researchers and academics, law enforcement, and legal requests. Facebook says that it does not use voice data for targeted ads. However, the metadata about your Portal usage – how often you make video calls or use in-call apps or features – can be used to target you with advertisements across the Facebook advertisement network. In addition, Facebook collects personal data from its partners. These partners provide information about your activities off Facebook — including information about your device, websites you visit, purchases you make, the ads you see, and how you use their services—whether or not you have a Facebook account or are logged into Facebook. Facebook shares information it collects on Portal with independent apps and services that integrate with Portal. This may include information about a user’s Portal device, such as device name, IP address, and zip code, as well as other information to help them provide the services requested by the user (for example, the text and subject of their voice commands to the app, service or integration through “Hey Portal”). The information collected by these independent apps, services, or integrations is subject to their own terms and policies.

How can you control your data?

Facebook Assistant activates when it hears “Hey Portal” and gives you a visual confirmation at the bottom of the screen. When your Portal hears the wake word, it will start to record your voice interaction and send it to Facebook servers in real-time to respond to your request. When you turn Portal’s microphone off, Portal won’t listen for the wake word, and voice control will be disabled. Facebook says to store data until it is no longer necessary to provide their services and Facebook Products or until your account is deleted – whichever comes first. It can take up to 90 days to delete data. Portal only works if you connect an active Facebook account or use Whatsapp.

You can view, hear, and delete your Portal’s voice interactions in Portal Settings or on your Facebook Activity Log. You can also turn off storage of Portal voice interactions in Portal settings.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?


In April 2021, it was reported that there was a personal data leak of about 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and, in some cases, email addresses. In August 2019, Bloomberg reported that Facebook hired contractors to transcribe audio messages users sent through Messenger and Facebook confirmed the report.

Can this product be used offline?


User-friendly privacy information?


Facebook has a Portal-specific privacy page with a FAQ section. https://portal.facebook.com/privacy/ Their privacy policy is also clearly broken out into sections so that people can easily find answers to frequent privacy questions.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information




Portal video calls are encrypted. All Portal WhatsApp calls are end-to-end encrypted and all Portal Facebook Messenger calls are encrypted in-transit. Facebook says that it does not listen to, view or keep the contents of any video or audio calls on your Portal.

Strong password


The Portal requires you to log in with a Facebook account and strong password. You may also set a passcode for the device.

Security updates


Automatic updates are enabled by default.

Manages vulnerabilities


Facebook has a bug bounty program.

Privacy policy


Does the product use AI? information


Facebook runs an AI portal. https://machinelearning.apple.com/

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

The Portal has an AI-powered "SmartCamera" feature that tracks you as you move in the video frame during a call. It is done by performing the computer vision (CV) modeling on-device. Portal’s camera does not use facial recognition and does not identify who you are — it uses AI technology to frame a scene. To do this, it determines whether something in the room is or isn’t a person.

Portal also has AI-powered augmented reality features in Messenger and WhatsApp video calling, and in the Photobooth and Storytime apps.

Portal also offers AI-powered voice assistant features. This includes an on-device wake word detection and automatic speech recognition models when a “Hey Portal” wake word is detected.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?


Does the user have control over the AI features?


*Privacy Not Included

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