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Facebook’s smart speaker on hold after privacy scandal

by Justin Herrick | March 28, 2018March 28, 2018 9:00 am PST

Facebook won’t be announcing its home-based assistant anytime soon as the company faces controversy relating to data collection and privacy.

The last few weeks have been difficult for the company, starting with the reports that Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information from users on behalf of Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign. It then came out that Facebook Messenger could be logging calls and texts in an inconspicuous manner. Facebook has denied collecting communications-related data.

Many users are calling on Facebook to explain itself in depth. Some have decided to go ahead and delete their accounts altogether. It’s become a matter of trust, and currently a significant number of users don’t feel there’s any between them and Facebook.

Lawmakers have also asked Mark Zuckerberg and other key executives to testify in front of Congress.

With so much pressure, now would be an awful time to launch anything. That’s why its smart speaker won’t launch at the F8 conference in May.

Facebook on a phone with skull - Book Catalog - Flickr - edited

Plans to launch the Portal at the company’s annual developer conference have been shelved, according to Bloomberg. Facebook will instead manage its current situation and aim to announce new hardware later in the year. The company doesn’t want to face further scrutiny over how much it knows about users because the Portal, which would be used in personal spaces, is said to have both a camera and microphone.

A few months ago, the Portal was said to ship with a design similar to Amazon’s Echo Show. It’s believed to have a display as well as speakers for users to see and hear each other. Facebook has also reportedly partnered with several services like Spotify and Netflix for third-party apps.

The company still intends to release the Portal, though. It just won’t happen at the annual developer conference. And, when the Portal does get announced, there’s a good chance it’ll be joined by other products. Facebook is expected to make a big play in home automation in 2018 and beyond.

Bloomberg Book Catalog

Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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