Facebook finds itself in hot water once again as it owns up to mistakenly inserting a variety of bizarre messages into the Oculus Touch virtual reality controller, including “Big Brother is Watching,” and “We see you!”
While Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell says the messages — which include “This Space For Rent”, “The Masons Were Here”, “Big Brother is Watching”, and “Hi iFixit! We
see you!” — were originally intended for prototypes only, the error ultimately affected tens of thousands of units currently waiting for public distribution. Mitchell called the messages “‘easter egg’ labels” and reassured consumers that the “inappropriate” phrases do not in any way compromise the hardware itself.
Oculus, founded in 2012, specializes in virtual reality hardware and software products. Two years after its launch, Facebook shelled out $2 billion to acquire the
California-based tech company. Oculus was cofounded by Palmer Luckey, who was forced out of Facebook following the acquisition due to his support of Donald Trump for president.
Facebook itself is not a stranger to scandal when it comes to breaches in security. In early 2018, the social media platform faced the Cambridge Analytica scandal which
resulted in CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearing before the United States Congress. The company has reportedly been harvesting users’ email contacts without consent for years. But in the last month alone, things have gotten considerably worse: a Mexican cybersecurity firm obtained over half a billion user profiles, a former manager revealed the company’s inability to properly regulate its handling of personal data, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even experienced a privacy invasion of his
own when the New York Times reported on the contents of his trash.
Facebook representative Johanna Peace has confirmed that, despite the mistake, the social media giant has chosen not to issue a recall on the hardware. The affected controllers will ship alongside the Oculus Rift (not impacted by the error) within the next month, as planned. The company seems to expect little backlash, assuming the majority of consumers won’t ever see the internal messages. Perhaps that would have been true if the mistake had remained as hidden as the messages themselves.
Regardless, the company maintains its stance on the relationship between the company and its users. “We think it’s important to be transparent with our community and take responsibility when there’s an error.”
Or, just act first and apologize later.