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Facebook is building a voice assistant, but does anyone want it?

Facebook is building a voice assistant, but does anyone want it?
Sometimes it feels like Facebook has no awareness of its public perception at all. There are already proven stories about how Facebook has been gathering more data than they claim and using that data in ways you might not expect (like using your phone number that you added for two-factor security to sell ads). There are conspiracy theories that Facebook is spying on users and listening to conversations.

Even so, Facebook built the Portal -- a camera that follows you around your room for video chats -- and now there are reports that Facebook is building its own voice assistant to compete with Google, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana (and Bixby, if you want to be a completionist about it). The Facebook Portal actually uses Alexa for voice commands, but it seems Facebook has been working on its own voice assistant. Ex-employees from Facebook told CNBC that a team in Facebook's augmented reality and virtual reality group has been quietly working on the project since early 2018. 

There's no indication of how Facebook would position the assistant, whether in the Facebook app itself or more as a replacement for Alexa in Portal hardware (assuming that hardware line continues.) It's also unclear how far along Facebook is in building the assistant or even where it's getting the voice data it would need to build the voice recognition piece. 

Also unclear is whether or not anyone actually wants a Facebook voice assistant. The Portal cameras have been failures by all accounts. Facebook's last attempt to make a human-powered assistant (M) failed as well. Add to that the general erosion of trust in Facebook, it's hard to imagine how the company could sell a product that actually does listen to you at all times. 


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