Face­book’s por­tal into your home

The Week (US) - - News 19 -

Would you let Face­book peer around your liv­ing room or kitchen? asked Kurt Wag­ner in Re­code.net. You’ll soon get to de­cide: The so­cial me­dia firm this week un­veiled Por­tal, a $199 smart speaker and video screen that will com­pete against Ama­zon’s Alexa and Google’s Home devices. Por­tal comes with “a high-def screen, a built-in cam­era, and four mi­cro­phones,” and some im­pres­sive video-call­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Its “smart cam­era” au­to­mat­i­cally “zooms, pans, and fo­cuses as peo­ple move around the room.” The com­pany prom­ises a host of pri­vacy fea­tures, and says calls will never be recorded or seen by Face­book. But “af­ter a year full of pri­vacy and se­cu­rity scan­dals,” the tech gi­ant might strug­gle to per­suade users to put a Por­tal in their home. smart­phone. “I hate my mom’s phone,” a se­cond-grader wrote, “and I wish she never had one.” One study of parental be­hav­ior found that the more par­ents used their phones, the more their preschool chil­dren “whined, sulked, or be­came ir­ri­ta­ble, eas­ily frus­trated, or hy­per­ac­tive”—even if the phone use was well within “nor­mal” level. Most trou­bling: Even ba­bies be­came un­com­fort­able when they saw their par­ents’ dis­tracted “phone face.”

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