A trio of Facebook employees got caught posting glowing reviews of the social network’s controversial new Portal device on Amazon.
Facebook’s new home speaker — which is equipped with a screen, microphone and camera with facial recognition for video calls — has been blasted by critics as a potential spying device for the social network, which has been dogged over the past year with privacy concerns.
Nevertheless, an Amazon user named Tim Chapell claimed in his review that he shelled out $1,150 to buy four Portals and one Portal Plus “on a chance” right before Thanksgiving — despite saying he isn’t a big Facebook user.
“I would recommend this product to anyone who has a family or friends that they enjoy staying in contact with,” Chapell wrote. “So much better than just a plain phone call.”
Chappell, it turns out, is a Facebook employee. Ditto for Javier Cubria and Oren Hafif, all of whom used their real, full names as they posted 5-star reviews for the devices, gushing about their “AMAZING” camera tracking and “pretty good” sound quality.
Amazon’s rules explicitly prohibit employees from reviewing products made by their employer.
The overzealous Facebookers’ reviews were first pointed out by New York Times columnist Kevin Roose, who took to Twitter to report the activity.
In response, Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth confirmed that the reviews were real but insisted that they were “neither coordinated nor directed from the company.”