Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) splashy acquisitions of WhatsApp and Oculus VR were announced about a month apart back in early 2014. The popular messaging platform was far more important strategically due to a variety of reasons -- more directly related to existing businesses, larger user base, massive price tag, etc. -- and Facebook initially vowed not to leverage WhatsApp user data for ad targeting.
The social networking giant reversed course a couple years later and started doing precisely that, a move that reportedly contributed to WhatsApp founders' eventual departure. Facebook is finally getting around to doing likewise with Oculus.
All the better to target you with
Starting in October, new users that have just purchased a device will have to log in with a Facebook account. Existing users that have both accounts can still choose not to merge those accounts...for a limited period of time. The subsidiary company will eliminate separate Oculus accounts altogether starting in 2023. People who still aren't OK with Facebook's snooping by that time will lose certain functionalities on products they've already purchased.
Oculus says that "full functionality" will require a Facebook account and warns that some purchased apps and games might simply stop working without one. "All future unreleased Oculus devices will require a Facebook account, even if you already have an Oculus account," according to the company. There is a new Oculus Quest headset expected to launch as soon as next month.
Users will be able to create and maintain a separate VR profile to have separate friends lists and choose whether they want to share any of their VR activities on Facebook. However, people who aren't fond of Facebook's snooping will not be able to prevent the data harvesting. Based on the blog post's comments section and social media activity, users are unhappy with the change.
@oculus— Jon Oakes (@JonVirtual) August 18, 2020
Can I get a refund on all my Oculus purchases since when I bought them you said I wouldn't have to do this?
Serious question I will keep asking until answered.
I don't want to have to link my FB profile to my VR profile.
This is gross. This is pretty much a bait and switch for all Oculus users. I wouldn't be surprised if someone opens up a class action lawsuit in response to this.— Love, Zach (@Kamigsrk) August 18, 2020
Oculus is naturally framing the move as a way to streamline the login experience for added convenience, but Facebook has more than earned its terrible reputation on the subject of user privacy. The swift backlash shouldn't surprise anyone.