Credit Where Credit Is Due: The Meta Quest virtual reality platform, formerly known as Oculus Quest, will soon be removing its obnoxious Facebook account mandate. As announced Thursday, starting in August, both new and existing Quest headset users will be able to use the system’s default operating system and digital download store without connecting their “real-name” social media accounts to the service. .
This is a good course correction of a bad decision. In 2020, I wrote extensively about the dangers of “facebooking” VR, which arose when the Quest VR platform abandoned its existing Oculus account system in favor of the required Facebook account. The decision forced cross-pollination between VR headsets and years of social media posts and messages, which contain cookies and metadata, from connected sites and services. This demanded a level of “real name” compliance that we have never seen from other major Western computing devices and operating systems.
Worse, the move threatened to circumvent the rules by anyone creating a dummy Facebook account. Facebook famously doesn’t allow aliases and fake names, and although it doesn’t check IDs at account creation, it can lock accounts at any time if it detects “suspicious” activity. To unlock an account, the company will usually request some form of “official” photo identification. If someone changes their Oculus account to a name like “Cow Incognito” and gets stuck in a lockdown state, Facebook is within its rights (given by its Terms of Service) to keep the account and all its associated software purchases closed. was well for.
Waiting for a better look at FB decoupling
As announced, the new “meta account” system will fix some of these most obvious issues. But will it be enough?
It is difficult to definitively answer this question. First, the new account system hasn’t gone live, so we can’t test a critical aspect of the change. According to Meta, anyone who switches from an Oculus account to a Facebook-linked identity will be able to separate all Facebook identity information when creating a new Meta account starting in August.
We’d like to see what this update looks like: how the software-purchase transfer will work, what notices may appear on affected Facebook accounts after the transfer, and how aggressive the company will be about asking Quest users if they are. really sure They want to separate Facebook from their headset experience. (Meta has already indicated that users can attach Facebook and Instagram credentials if they wish.) Facebook representatives have not responded to our questions regarding these concerns as of press time.
There’s also the matter of exactly what traces of Facebook user data may remain. This week, we’re still grappling with a well-founded allegation involving a lawsuit, about Facebook’s official policy to “undelete” deleted account data when requested by law enforcement agencies. A spokesperson for Meta said the claims were “without merit,” but even though this is true, we already know that Facebook has made sensitive data of users available to bidders and social media for experiments. openly manipulated his experiences. Facebook is in the business of collecting as much user data as possible and keeping all relevant user records available for as long as possible—so much so that we have yet to get an explanation of how to separate Facebook data from meta accounts. any The company’s new ToS disclosures were unveiled this week.