Facebook has conceded for the first time that data gathered via its Portal video-chat gadget can be repurposed for targeted ads displayed elsewhere, just days after confirming 50m accounts have been compromised by hackers.
The social media service is currently under a microscope over its handling of a number of data scandals, heightening sensitivities surrounding its always-on microphones and cameras amidst fears consumers may be giving away more data than they realise.
Portal and Portal Plus are Facebook’s first branded hardware products, taking the form of twin AI-enabled smart speakers and video-communication tools for speaking to Facebook contacts directly.
Neither device will display adverts on its own but Facebook has now conceded that data gleaned from Portal customers such as who they call, call duration and which apps are used, in order to better direct advertising elsewhere.
In a statement given to Recode Facebook clarified: “Portal voice calling is built on the Messenger infrastructure, so when you make a video call on Portal, we collect the same types of information that we collect on 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, may also feed into the information that we use to serve ads."
Facebook is locked in a battle to maintain public trust as it continues to contend with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in which the personal information of 30m members was misused.