Meta VR Headset Accounts – The Damage is Already Done

I recently was watching a youtube video by ThrillSeeker, a youtuber that shares VR news, and came across a part where he mentions that Facebook Meta is now no longer requiring users to have a Facebook account to use their headsets; and I’m pissed.

Background

A bit of background: A company named Oculus was one of the first companies to start developing VR headsets. They had a lot of good talent and really kickstarted the whole VR industry, in my opinion. Facebook came along and decided to buy Oculus back in 2019. While Facebook did provide a significant amount of funding for the company they also decided to force all their users to create a Facebook account.

This meant that your social media profile was directly linked with the ability for you to be able to use your $600 VR headset + any games you’ve purchased. Everyone was pissed because the link doesn’t make sense. Sure, its easier for Facebook to not have to develop a second method for storing profile information for their users; but social media platforms today are ban-happy.

Imagine if you will a world where you have a Facebook account that you use regularly and a VR headset. You meet someone in the real world, turns out they’re not your type, and you decide that you want to end the relationship. Before you block them, they decide to get revenge – they know you have a VR headset, and they know your Facebook profile. They go to Facebook, make a baseless report against your public Facebook account and claim you were harassing them.

Because Facebook is the size it is, they can’t fully rely on human intervention for every single report. They must rely on some kind of automated system to handle these kinds of requests. They either have a bot that screens some of the reports, or they simply automatically ban you. I’ve been a target of these auto-bans for literally doing nothing! (I created an account as a placeholder for my domain and I wasn’t actively using it, so I was banned for “suspicious activity”).

So you get banned and now you have a $600 paperweight until you go and fight the claim.

Because of the fact that my VR headset can be bricked over a false claim is the reason why I have a private Facebook account. An account that has no other purpose but to circumvent Facebook’s requirements to be able to log into my headset, and that no one will know of. There’s no reason to share it as its effectively a “dead” account – it has no posts, no contact information, and doesn’t have any friends. Which, of course, I don’t need to have any friends on it because if I wanted to add a friend in the metaverse, I would share my Oculus account instead!

brown concrete statue under white sky during daytime

Why I’m still mad

Why am I still mad? Because the damage is already done and I don’t think it’s actually going to be any different.

Facebook is going through some rebranding due to their negative publicity, so they’re renaming themselves as “Meta”. Meta is now the parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp; and meta’s main product is their users. If something is free, you are the product. Facebook Meta gets most of their revenue from selling ads.

Meta Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2021 Results – Segment Information

Given that Meta is making so much from ads, it makes sense that they want to try and get every part of their business to help with supplying information to their advertising tools. The more information an AI has, the more accurate it can be. Facebook’s Ad AI is trying to show ads to users that they will most likely click on, which is not a hard statistics problem to solve.

Given that 100% of users that like Bob Dylan click on Bob Dylan concert ads, what is the likelyhood that you – a Bob Dylan fan – is going to click on the Bob Dylan concert ad?

Thats why Facebook wants to tie everything you do into their ecosystem in some way; even if they have to force all of their VR headset users to create and login with a Facebook account. They want to know everything you do at all times to try and optimize the profile they have on you to sell you ads.

Facebook to Meta Accounts

I’m glad that I don’t need to tie a publicly facing account to a device that I want to keep private. That means that I will be less likely to be randomly banned for not following social media posting etiquette (even if it means not posting anything at all……).

However, Facebook Meta is forcing their VR headset users to migrate their Facebook accounts to a Meta account. This means that they still want to be collecting your information for ads. Fine – if it means I can buy my headset for significantly cheaper, I’ll suck it up and let the great powers that be watch over my every move in Beat Sabre. Maybe they’ll notice how much I suck and show me ads for VR wands that may make it a bit easier… or maybe they’ll show me ads for other games. “Hey, you really are ass at Beat Sabre, why don’t you try something else?” – Thanks Facebook!

Hypothesis

OK, so VR users don’t have to have a Facebook account, but they’ll need to migrate over to Meta accounts in the next few months. Why then do they want you to have both a Meta account and an Oculus profile?

The Facebook account was to tie your information into their ecosystem, and Oculus was there probably for legacy purposes. They heard their audience and how everyone was mad that they had to have a Facebook account, so they switched over to Meta; but everyone knows that Facebook is Meta. The only reason why there’s all this rebranding is because Facebook has such a bad reputation now. The Meta account serves the same purpose to Facebook as the Facebook account did – only to collect information about their users. The Oculus profile was used for interactions between users in VR spaces.

My guess is that these Meta accounts are going to replace all other accounts. First VR users switch over because everyone’s mad about being forced to have a Facebook account, then it will spread to their other platforms – WhatsApp, Instagram, and eventually (maybe) Facebook.

Once Meta has absorbed all of the other platforms completely, then we’ll be in the exact same place where we started: VR headset users being forced to create publicly facing social media platform accounts.

So yes – I’m glad Facebook is finally listening in some way, but I’m calling bullshit – its simply pandering to their audience without making any actual changes to how they operate.

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