Facebook to Launch New Streaming Device That Watches You Watch TV


Photo by Ercin Top/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

According to a new report by Variety, Facebook is planning to launch a new Portal video streaming device in time for the holiday season, and it sounds downright Orwellian.

Meant to compete with the likes of Roku, AppleTV and Amazon’s FireTV, the new Portal device will reportedly feature a camera and far-field microphones so that it’s capable of watching and listening to you as you watch your favorite shows. The idea is that these video conferencing features would be used for remote viewing parties, so that friends can watch and discuss shows together while in different locations. Variety also reports the device may include an integrated speaker.

But as Fast Company‘s Jared Newman points out, the prospect of video-chatting your friends while you binge-watch Succession may not be enough to overcome users’ privacy concerns.

“The problem, of course, is Facebook, which just suffered a major security breach that exposed the personal information of nearly 30 million users, and admitted earlier this year that up to 87 million users had their data harvested without permission by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica,” Newman writes. “Those blunders, along with other recent breaches of trust (such as misusing two-factor authentication numbers for targeted ads), could turn users off the idea of a Facebook-powered TV camera.”

Right now the new Portal device is known only by its codename “Ripley,” but it’s expected to be announced in time to hit shelves by the holidays.

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