Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 Has Some Serious Privacy Issues

A VR veteran weighs in on the problems with connecting your headset to Facebook

Avi Bar-Zeev
OneZero
Published in
7 min readSep 18, 2020

--

Stylish dark blue image of a man wearing Oculus headset.
Photo: Minh Pham/Unsplash

The leaks are true.

Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, just announced the Oculus Quest 2, a very decent low-end VR head-mounted display (HMD) for under $300. This has been the company’s own internal quest for many years: to most cheaply solve the most common frustrations users have with VR. The theory is, with everyone now cooped up at home, and with the drop in price, the Zoom-fatigued and occasionally unwashed masses will now jump into VR’s new immersive social experiences by the millions.

At least, that’s what Facebook hopes will happen.

The company must have bought millions of components in advance to get costs so low, which means that Facebook has probably invested at least $10 billion into Extended Reality (XR) at this point, possibly double that. Still, I assume they will easily make at least that much off their users in a few years.

But there are serious privacy concerns that are preventing many people, including me, from buying these devices. I recently ran a [not-very-scientific] poll on Twitter where the majority of respondents said they won’t buy any Facebook products at all. Second place was an option to treat the upcoming election like carbon credits: buying the Quest 2, but also pledging to vote for candidates who will regulate Facebook.

When Oculus founder Palmer Luckey announced that he sold his company to Facebook, he promised that you wouldn’t need to sign into Oculus with your Facebook account, giving some hope that they could beat their VR sabers and simulate jobs in peace. Yet Facebook will require everyone who buys the new hardware to have a Facebook account, and that means consumers will have to use their real identity or risk a permanent ban from the platform. (You have some time to convert if you remain on the older hardware). This is not at all surprising, given Facebook’s business model, but some folks still feel betrayed.

Facebook revised their XR privacy policies recently. This was the company’s best opportunity, in my view, to correct some of its most egregious abuses of trust, where it could clearly state their…

--

--

Avi Bar-Zeev
OneZero

XR Pioneer (30+ years), started/helped projects at Microsoft (HoloLens), Apple, Amazon, Keyhole (Google Earth), Linden Lab (Second Life), Disney (VR), XR Guild