Facebook is hitting the pause button on its plan to disclose a new smart speaker — amid backlash that the company permitted millions of users’ private information to be harvested by a political consultancy, according to a new report.
The social media giant has been working on smart speaker and video-chatting gadgets to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home, but has decided not to unveil them during a May tech conference, because the public is so distrustful of how Facebook handles personal information, Bloomberg reports.
It was revealed earlier this month that Facebook permitted political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to steal personal information from 50 million users in order to build psychological profiles of voters.
As Facebook went into damage control over the ensuing scandal, news broke Monday that it also gathered call and text data from Android phone users, including whom they called, when and for how long.
The Federal Trade Commission opened a probe into Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica leak, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify about the company’s privacy practices during an April 10 congressional hearing.
Facebook still plans to launch the home speakers later this year, according to Bloomberg.
It was even testing a feature that would let a camera on one home speaker model scan the room for people and lock onto their faces, the outlet reported last fall.
The voice-activated devices are only supposed to start recording after hearing a “wake word” that lets them know you’re talking to them, but data-privacy watchdogs warn they may be listening in when we don’t want them to.
Google had to confess last October after it was revealed its home speakers suffered a major glitch that caused them to continuously record.