from the what's-the-opposite-of-advertising dept
Back in 2014 when Facebook bought Oculus, there were the usual pre-merger promises that nothing would really change, or that Facebook wouldn’t erode everything folks liked about the independent kickstarted product. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, who has since moved on to selling border surveillance tech to the Trump administration, made oodles of promises to that effect before taking his money and running toward the sunset. Among those promises was the promise users would never be forced to use a Facebook login account just to use your VR headset and its games, and that the company wouldn’t track your behavior for advertising.
Like every major merger, those promises didn’t mean much. This week, Facebook and Oculus announced that users will soon be forced to — use a Facebook account if they want to be able to keep using Oculus hardware, so the company can track its users for advertising purposes. The official Oculus announcement tries to pretend that this is some innate gift to the end user, instead of just an obvious way for Facebook to expand its behavioral advertising empire:
“Giving people a single way to log into Oculus—using their Facebook account and password— will make it easier to find, connect, and play with friends in VR. We know that social VR has so much more to offer, and this change will make it possible to integrate many of the features people know and love on Facebook.”
And while users won’t be forced to fully use Facebook to login until 2023, those that don’t want Facebook tracking their every online waking movement will be out of luck. Meaning that you may not be able to use your pricey hardware — or the software you’ve been accumulating — unless you agree to join the Facebook universe:
“After January 1, 2023, we will end support for Oculus accounts. If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account. We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though we expect some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they include features that require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased. All future unreleased Oculus devices will require a Facebook account, even if you already have an Oculus account.”
The changes will also impact the functionality of Oculus Quest’s “Link,” which lets users connect the standalone VR headset to a PC to expand its functionality. It also begs the question: what happens if you get banned by Facebook due to its incoherent and inconsistent moderation strategies? You suddenly can’t use your VR headset because Facebook’s algorithms stupidly ban you for posting photos of yourself breastfeeding?
This being Facebook, there’s not a mention of any ability to prevent Facebook from being able to track the entirety of your behavior while using a VR headset. Given all the justified criticism of Facebook, the consumer response (especially among those that liked Oculus but have tried to avoid Facebook) is about what you’d expect over at forums like the Oculus subreddit: