Facebook has sparked outrage among Oculus users after confirming this week that a Facebook account will be needed to log into their device. The social network—which bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014—said in a blog that starting in October this year, everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in using a Facebook account.
Existing Oculus users have the option to log in with Facebook and merge their accounts now, and those who choose not to will have two years to use their Oculus accounts—Facebook will end support for Oculus accounts in January 2023. But Facebook warned that those who choose to stick with Oculus accounts will lose functionality.
“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.”
Oculus user outrage
Oculus users expressed their outrage on a Reddit thread, with one pointing out that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had betrayed a promise he made back in 2016 that people would not need a Facebook account to use the Oculus Rift.
Luckey responded to the recent accusations, saying: “I am already getting heat from users and media outlets who say this policy change proves I was lying when I consistently said this wouldn’t happen, or at least that it was a guarantee I wasn’t in a position to make.
“I want to make clear that those promises were approved by Facebook in that moment and on an ongoing basis, and I really believed it would continue to be the case for a variety of reasons. In hindsight, the downvotes from people with more real-world experience than me were definitely justified.”
I have contacted Facebook for a comment and will update this article if the firm responds.
EFF: Facebook breaks promise
EFF analyst Karen Gullo sent me an additional statement via email: “The new requirement breaks a privacy promise to users. Facebook should be held accountable—keeping promises should be a minimum standard for new acquisitions.”
What to do
Other privacy experts agree. Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET says the move seems “a blatant way to gain user connection information”, adding that “it is rather unusual to only offer one option when signing up.”
But Moore thinks it’s possible Facebook may backtrack after the backlash from Oculus users: “It is likely that it will only work if Oculus’ user base doesn’t reject the decision to hand over their Facebook details. Therefore, there is a distinct possibility that this move may not ever come to fruition.”
So, what should you do if you use Oculus, or are planning on buying a device? For now, Moore suggests those who do not feel comfortable in offering up their Facebook details should create a burner account for the single use of Oculus sign up.
It’s a good idea if you really want to buy an Oculus, and who knows, by 2023, maybe things will have changed.