Facebook postponed the planned unveiling of its smart speakers due to a major data privacy scandal it’s currently enduring, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the decision. The Menlo Park, California-based social media giant is originally said to have planned to unveil its first Internet-enabled devices at its annual developer conference taking place in May but is now supposedly re-evaluating the entire project, particularly in regards to how its hardware handles user data. The Facebook F8 event is scheduled to start on May 1, which is when the firm is also expected to explain its new practices meant to restrict data access to app developers that co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this month.
According to previous reports, Facebook has been working on two smart speakers code-named Aloha and Fiona. The earliest reports on the matter emerged last July, with the firm already delaying the two devices on at least one occasion as the duo was initially meant to be released in the first quarter of 2018. The products are said to have been developed by Facebook’s Building 8, its moonshot project factory exploring a wide variety of technologies, many of which are much more emerging than conventional smart speakers. The company is said to be planning to differentiate the speakers from its rivals by shipping devices with 15-inch screens which are much larger than what competitors such as Amazon’s Echo Show and Lenovo’s Smart Display are offering.
The scandal Facebook is presently going through revolves around American political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that harvested data of approximately 50 million users of the social media platform in 2014 through an independent researcher who developed a personality quiz app. A whistleblower recently accused the company of using that improperly obtained data to wage an information war during the 2016 presidential election in the United States on behalf of the Trump campaign, though the firm repeatedly denied such allegations and agreed to subject its servers to a forensic audit meant to prove it deleted the information in 2015.