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Meta (Facebook) buying Oculus and requiring a Facebook account to use the device is a big reason why I bought an HTC Vive instead of any Oculus device. I have a Facebook account, but it doesn’t see a whole lot of use.
It isn’t so much that I’m wildly concerned about my data — I basically live and work on the web. My data is out there. But I like the polite fiction that a website or company isn’t going to shell that data out to anyone willing to pay.
I mean, they absolutely will. That’s how it works, mostly. But the fiction is comforting. It’s kind of like how people refuse to use Facebook but are happy to use Instagram.
So it’s a device hungry eye that caught the announcement that Meta will begin rolling out Meta accounts in August. The new accounts are mandatory; if Quest owners have been using a Facebook account or a Facebook/Oculus merged account they’ll need to make a Meta account right away. Users who have been using an Oculus account will be able to keep using it until January 2023.
Users who migrate accounts should continue to have access to all their history and purchases, which is kind of a big deal. Previously, deleting your Facebook account lost you all your Oculus purchases.
So, why change how accounts work?
The change is happening, at least in part, because of a promise from then Oculus boss Palmer Luckey. When Facebook originally purchased Oculus for $2 billion Luckey took to Reddit to soothe fans, promising Oculus owners would never need a Facebook account to log in.
A handful of months later Facebook announced that a Facebook account would be required going forward. Though it was Luckey who made the promise, he was speaking on behalf of and with the backing of Facebook.
People were pretty mad at the betrayal. This whole switch from needing a Facebook account, to needing a Meta account seems to be trying to (finally) address that broken promise.
The move to a Meta account is meant to reflect a shift away from traditional social media towards a more metaverse-focused environment. But part of the new account creation process requires the creation of a Meta Horizon profile.
As it happens, this is a social media profile that will appear both in VR environments as well as elsewhere on the web. The biggest change is that users can create multiple Meta accounts, instead of being limited to a single account.
Of course, each new Meta account will have a Meta Horizon social media account as part and parcel of the process — which is going to be great but … data collection and sales.
Once users have set up a Meta account, they can choose to either link a Facebook account to it. If users choose to link a Facebook or Instagram account, they can connect with friends to invite them to activities in VR.
But like I said. It’s the polite fiction that I like. It’s a lot of social media hooks from the company which does Facebook. But until the Meta brand is as tarnished as the Facebook brand, I can live with it.
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