Online privacy concerns

Two headlines, this week, about tech giants Facebook and Google, are raising some new privacy concerns that may be part of the price we pay to stay connected.

Facebook's new "Portal" device is a video-phone that uses 'messenger' contacts to let users chat face-to-face.

It features facial recognition that can identify various people in the room.

Facebook insists the device will not track and store any data about those users, but the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal is an example of why some are not convinced.

"It's like getting back together with a girlfriend who has already cheated on you," says Houston tech-expert Juan Guevara Torres, "The will promise you all the time, but we already know that Facebook already cheated on us."

Guevara Torres says what many people forget, or fail to realize, is that we are little more than a '"commodity" to social-media platforms and online commerce, involving billions of users. says Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly users in the second quarter of this year.

Amazon had 340 million active users in 2015.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans use a Google service each day.

Every one of those online experiences is chock-full of data about who used it, where they are, what they bought, and more.

That data is collected and sold to advertisers who want use it to sell us something else.

It's very valuable stuff.

So, when the Wall Street Journal reported Google discovered, last spring, that the personal information of hundreds of thousands of its Google+ social media users had been compromised, the online giant was forced to acknowledge the vulnerability and shut the service down.

Guevara Torres says we are actively diminishing our personal privacy. "You should understand that, now, if you are using one of those services: Your house became glass. The walls are glass. Everybody can see through," he says.

One possible protection, that may be easier said than done, is to disconnect from these services completely.

Another, is federal regulation to protect consumers.

Europe has done it, and the idea is gaining traction, in Washington, with each of these new stories.