U-turn for Meta’s Facebook? New system for users logging into Meta’s virtual reality headsets will be deployed from next month
Meta Platforms is to change its login system for its virtual reality headsets, apparently undoing a controversial change implemented in 2020.
The company began requiring Facebook logins for new users of Oculus devices in October 2020 when it launched the Oculus Quest 2 headset. Facebook has also said at the time that it planned to gradually phase out existing Oculus accounts.
Facebook had acquired Oculus in 2014 and previously allowed users to activate the headsets with a stand-alone Oculus login.
The Facebook login requirement was controversial and triggered an investigation in Germany, over concerns it could be an abuse of the firm’s dominant position in social media, exposing gamers to Facebook’s data gathering policies.
And it is clear why there was privacy concerns, as Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 currently dominates the consumer VR headset market, and is priced near the bottom of the market at £299 ($299 in the US).
Now Meta has revealed that from August 2022, it will “begin rolling out Meta accounts: a new way for people to log into their VR headsets that doesn’t require a Facebook account.”
Meta Horizon Profiles for VR
Meta said that from August, if a person is new to Meta VR devices or has previously merged their Oculus account with their Facebook account, they will need to create a Meta account and Meta Horizon profile.
If the person been logging into their VR device with their Oculus account, they can continue to do so until 1 January 2023, at which point they will need to create a Meta account and Meta Horizon profile to continue using their Meta VR device.
The firm stressed that a Meta account is not a social media profile; it lets a person log into their VR devices and view and manage their purchased apps in one place. Meta did say that in the future, it will extend account functionality so people can use it to log into other Meta devices.
“After you finish creating a Meta account, you’ll be prompted to create a Meta Horizon profile,” said the firm. “Your Oculus friends will become your followers, similar to how it works on Instagram. This update provides more ways to be social and connect with others.”
“We want to let you control who you interact with in VR and build your own community,” Meta added. “As part of this update, you’ll now find a menu with three privacy options to help guide you through which privacy settings are the best fit for you: Open to Everyone, Friends and Family, and Solo.”
“After you make your selection, you’ll have the opportunity to review and confirm your individual privacy settings are set the way you want them,” it said. “You can change these settings at any time.”
Whether these changes will solve Oculus user concerns, remains to be seen.
Meta didn’t not ease tensions in 2021, when it said it would begin testing ads in its Oculus Quest virtual reality headsets, in spite of an earlier claim that it would never do so.