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TIMO ZIMMERMANN

balancing software engineering & infosec

Thoughts On Facebook, Oculus and GDPR

posted on Monday 7th of September 2020 in ,

Facebook decided it is time to force themselves on Oculus users. This is something that was predicted when FB bought Oculus, but fans believed in the promise that Oculus will stay independent. Guess what is next – ads. I am still waiting for an explanation why I need social features when wearing my VR headset playing Skyrim. One of the appeals of single player games is kicking back and enjoying a game. No competition, no other people, some peace and quite while enjoying a great story. „Social features“ are literally the last thing I want anywhere near my games, VR or not. Even in multiplayer games I prefer them to be optional. Funnily, it is also one of the rare occasions in which GDPR is actually used for what it was created – to stop tech giants from behaving customer hostile.

In the wake of this, I hope that people realize (and internalize) who is building or owning the hardware they use – as this is directly tied to the long term viability of a platform.

If you buy a Vive or any other headset from a company specializing in building VR headsets or running a gaming platform it is fair to assume that their long term goal is to make you game more. It is their business. But if you buy an Oculus you are buying from a company whose business it is to show you ads and sell your data.

The same is true for any other hardware you buy. If you buy an iPhone, Apple is obviously interested in selling you other Apple products and services. They are in the hardware and software business. If you buy a Samsung phone they are interested in selling you a new phone each year, they are in the phone business. If you happen to buy one from Google, well, they are not interested in you or the product. They just continue to ignore your existence either way.

Facebook forcing itself onto Oculus users was foreseeable, even during the time of the acquisition. I am actually surprised it took so long. Hopefully it will serve as a lesson and people start paying more attention to the manufacturer and owner of things they buy, and the potential consequences attached to that. The outrage of FB being FB seems to indicate people care and disagree with this move, now they have to start voting with their wallet.