We were pretty excited about reports of a Facebook smart speaker back in February, but it seems the company has shelved plans amid the storm about use of the social network’s data.
Rumours were rife that a smart speaker from Facebook could be shown off at the company’s F8 conference on 1 May, but a new Bloomberg report has put paid to that.
Update: Facebook smart speaker pictures
Digitimes reported that two smart home devices, codenamed Fiona and Aloha, would launch by July "at the latest". The devices, which seem to resemble the Amazon Echo Show in description at least, were said to have forward-facing camera on the device, for the aforementioned video chat, that will also feature face recognition.
It doesn’t mean that we won’t see a Facebook smart speaker this year – it wasn’t due to be released until the latter half of 2018 anyway.
For those who have been living under a rock, Facebook has been rocked by a scandal that a company called Cambridge Analytica harvested data from the platform via surveys, and used that to target politically sensitive people with disinformation in the Trump and Brexit campaigns. It’s wiped billions off the value of the social network and prompted a #deletefacebook hashtag.
It’s also created a potent issue around data – what’s being stored and who has access to it. And when it comes to Facebook putting smart speakers – which are in effect listening devices – it’s little wonder that the company is pulling back from plans, for now at least.
The news also highlights another intriguing study from this week. A poll conducted by Reuters in the US revealed that social media users are far more likely to trust Amazon with their data than Facebook. 66% of users trusted Amazon to obey laws regarding personal information, while only 41% could say the same of Facebook.
All eyes will be on F8 to see how Facebook responds to the barrage of negative press about its network – but when it comes to future smart home devices, it might be a while yet until consumers feel safe enough to let Facebook into their homes.