Facebook’s rumored TV camera thing would sound cool if it weren’t from Facebook

By Jared Newman

October 16, 2018

Facebook reportedly wants to stick a camera on your television as part of its foray into consumer hardware. According to Cheddar’s Alex Heath, who accurately reported on the Portal smart display that Facebook announced last week, the TV device is codenamed “Ripley,” and it would provide both video chat and streaming video services. Facebook reportedly plans to announce the device next spring, but that timing could change.

Although Heath didn’t mention this specifically, Facebook Portal has one unique feature that might help sell the TV concept: Users can set up synchronized viewing and listening sessions with services like Facebook Watch, Food Network, Spotify, Newsy, and Pandora. In theory, watching TV with faraway friends sounds pretty neat.

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. 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.

That may not stop other companies from trying something similar. Last month, OnePlus founder Pete Lau said the company wants to release a television with a built-in camera in 2019.

I reached out to Facebook for comment and will update if I hear back.