Facebook to update Portal policy on what data it collects about you

It's always wise to read the fine print.

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
Expertise I've been writing about social media since 2015 but have previously covered politics, crime and education. I also have a degree in studio art. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie award for consumer analysis
Queenie Wong
2 min read

Facebook is releasing a new line of Portal video devices, including a smaller version with an 8-inch display.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook landed in hot water this summer after revelations surfaced that the company was paying third-party contractors to listen to and transcribe audio clips of Messenger users to improve the accuracy of Facebook's artificial intelligence system.

Now the company is clarifying what data it collects from people who use its updated Portal video chat devices, which use Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp chat services. The social network said Wednesday that it's updating a data policy for Portal on Oct. 15 to clarify what data Facebook collects and shares from these devices. Facebook plans to start shipping a redesigned 10-inch Portal and 8-inch Portal Mini on Oct. 15. The company is also releasing a version of Portal that lets you video chat through your TV.

The updated policy states that when a user says "Hey Portal!" a recording and transcription of the voice interaction goes to Facebook's servers. In some cases, the devices may've mistakenly interpreted other speech as that wake-up command and may've recorded your subsequent chatter even if you didn't say "Hey Portal!" Facebook uses humans and machines to review these voice interactions to improve and train Facebook's speech recognition system. Users can turn off the storage of these voice interactions and view, hear and delete them, according to the policy. 

Portal also collects environmental data such as info on ambient light. When the device crashes, a log that's sent to Facebook may include data from the camera and microphone, and contact information. Information can also be shared when someone physically walks into your home and sees what's on the screen, such as family photos.

The policy also includes a section about what information Facebook collects from independent apps and services on Portal. Facebook's Portal devices let you stream from Facebook's video hub and download video streaming apps such as Amazon Prime Video or music apps like Spotify. 

Facebook collects information "about your use of the app, service or integration, including how often and for how long you use it, crash log information when it crashes and an authorization token, if you log in," according to the policy. Facebook, for example, gets information about what songs you play on the Portal devices.