Although Facebook Spaces was shut down in October, making way for the company’s next social VR platform, Horizon, Facebook is rolling out some big social changes that promise to make meeting, talking, and playing together on the Oculus platform a lot easier.

The catch? To benefit from these sweeping changes, you’ll have to sign into Oculus with a Facebook login, something the company says will keep Oculus VR users “safer at scale by backing social interactions with their Facebook identity.”

Not only that, but Facebook says it will eventually also require you to sign in to use existing social features such as joining parties, adding friends, and visiting other people’s Oculus Homes—things you can already do now with basic set of Oculus login credentials, which are critically not tied to your personal identity.

Image captured by Road to VR

Facebook first announced some of this back at OC6 in September, but here’s a quick breakdown for what’s happening to the Oculus platform now. Although you can still choose not to log in with Facebook on the Oculus platform, if you do, you’ll be able to:

  • Chat – message Oculus friends in or out of the headset with quick responses to hop into games together.
  • Join friends in VR with links – following a link, you can join friends from any device with links that open to where your friends are within an app, and see the most popular destinations where people are playing in VR (including Oculus and Facebook Messenger friends).
  • User-created Events – organize meetups or multiplayer games with friends.
  • Share photos, videos, and livestream to Facebook – share your favorite moments to Facebook Groups from VR.
  • Open Parties – no longer invite-only, you can now create open chats with all friends on your Oculus friends list.

The company’s basic reasoning behind all of this rests both on its ownership of the Oculus platform, and its integration of Facebook technology therein. It actually has more to do with privacy than you may think though.

Privacy Changes to Oculus

The company says that by logging in with your Facebook credentials that you’ll still be able to keep a separate Oculus username, profile, and your existing Oculus friends. You’ll also be able to choose whether you want to automatically add your Facebook friends to your Oculus friends list, and control who can see your real name on the platform. In addition, the company says you can choose what information you post to your Facebook profile or timeline, either by giving permission to post or by updating your privacy settings.

That’s a fair bit of control to keep you safe from other Oculus platform users, although it decidedly gives more power to Facebook to keep tabs on your activity—making for a bit of a ‘carrot and stick’ method that not only ties Oculus users to their physical identities, which is couched as a method to help combat online trolls and maintain platform-sanctioned decorum, but also makes sure Oculus users fully encapsulated by Facebook’s privacy policy, which in the age of VR is well… it’s getting pretty weird (we haven’t even begun to talk about user privacy when it comes to face or eye-tracking).

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As it goes, Facebook is going to be using Oculus data to improve ad recommendations for users logged in with Facebook credentials. The company says it will use Oculus activity, including apps you use, to make this happen. Recommendations are said to range from suggesting Oculus Events, to adverts for VR apps sold on the Oculus Store. Facebook says these changes won’t affect third-party apps and games, and they won’t affect your on-device data.

Critically, Facebook maintains they won’t share data to “allow third parties to target advertisements to you based on your use of the Oculus Platform.” That doesn’t sound like Facebook is shutting off the avenue to third parties entirely though, but we haven’t had an opportunity to look at the updated privacy policy yet to confirm. We’ll update once we do.

Image courtesy Oculus

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to log in with a Facebook account to use an Oculus headset and play games on Rift or Quest, but the company has essentially made sure you’ll be missing out on these fairly basic (and long-promised) social tools if you don’t.

By condensing all of its first-party services together under a Facebook login, the company is ostensibly paving the way for more Facebook-built apps and social integrations, which ought to make for a much more attractive offering than simply putting up a Facebook account login wall on an app-by-app basis like it did prior to today for things like Oculus Venues and Facebook Spaces. This is poised to force new and old users alike to login with Facebook in order to have the ‘full Oculus experience’, and will likely put a greater emphasis on the company’s own social spaces, services, and whatever app Facebook wants to integrate next with much greater ease.

This generally comes as no surprise, as Facebook has continued to shuffle its remaining Oculus executives to positions deeper into the Facebook mothership, whilst at the same time promoting long-time Facebook execs into Oculus leadership positions. As it were, Oculus is no longer a company, but rather a division of Facebook; all five of the original Oculus co-founders have left Facebook entirely at this point, leaving little question as to where its ambitions lie when it comes to integrating the Oculus brand and further tying its users to the company’s social network.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Mike Porter

    In other news, the pope is catholic.

  • Paul Schuyler

    That view of Oculus headquarters is quite telling, isn’t it? Secure, electronic access to each room.

  • manhunt0r

    oh well, fuck em. i got enough out of my rift over two years and now i can just firewall their cancerware till the the hw dies. there is zero chance of me ever again being gullible enough to buy Anything faceberg may have ever touched.

    • MeowMix

      So far these features seem to only apply to the Standalone headsets (Quest/GO).
      I’m not sure if they’ll come to the Rift platform. Oculus has always treated Rift a bit different, my guess is because the PC gamer userbase doesn’t like FB proper.

      • Blaexe

        This affects the PC side aswell. You won’t be able to visit other homes or start parties without a linked facebook account.

  • sfmike

    It all become very Orwellian when you consider Zuckerberg’s private calls to the White House. Facebook selling our consumer information to retailers and political affiliations to the government.

  • sebrk

    Well that was that then. So long and thanks for all the fish! I never owned a Facebook account and will not start now. Glad an Index is heading my way. Fucking bullshit.

    • dialmove

      So you’ll sign for a Steam account, which you need to access VR with the Index.

      • sebrk

        Are you comparing Facebook and Valve in terms of privacy right now?

  • impurekind

    I actually don’t want any of that stuff to be honest, so I’d rather just use it not signed in. If there comes a day when I can’t do that then I’ll be very annoyed. Although I guess I kinda have to be signed in if I want to purchase any new games/apps for my headset, right?

    • Blaexe

      You can buy and play games without a facebook account. You will basically need a facebook account for everything “social”.

      • impurekind

        Good, because I really don’t want all the “social” crap at all. I think people in today’s society don’t really understand what really being social is anymore–because it’s not Facebook.

  • Grey Lock

    I don’t want to sign into my Rift using my Facebook account :-(

    • Jistuce

      Never. He’s going to continue to insist that isn’t what happened at all. He’s firmly convinced that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth, and hasn’t really noticed that there’s an extensive discussion about this OUTSIDE Facebook that he has no control over.

    • Xron

      Hmz… weird that Lucky created new company and got a contract from NEW administration… of Usa… ;p

  • Jimmy Ray

    Google takes your data all the time have you wondered why your phone come up with ad ideas to you. Apple does it to. They all do it. Hell even when we mention about things on a different company as above. It shows up on anther company website.

    • manhunt0r

      except for some of us it doesnt.
      because we care. because we try to limit our exposure to big tech as much as possible with oss roms, anonymized search engines, browser extensions and just plain avoidance of their “services”.
      some of us always remembered that so long as you are not paying for the product you are most likely it. the very least we can do is make it a bitch to sell us.

  • Jimmy Ray

    Now when the mind control devices come(phones are almost that). Then I’m out.

  • Kevin White

    I did the “full delete” of Facebook data and identity three years ago, and haven’t stepped onto the site since. This move was more about shedding the nastiness of social media than concerns about privacy. Now I’m under no illusion that FB actually deleted all my stuff, but I also have no intention of ever using anything Facebook-related. My wife still has an account but she only goes on for a specific purpose on rare occasion (pictures of family for example). I was, however, considering buying the Quest (actually I was going to buy it for my wife and I as a gift to ourselves for the holiday but I hear it’s sold out so we’re getting a Nintendo Switch for now).

    So is it true that if I got the Quest that I’d be shut off from a variety of social features? How crippling is this, do you think? Should non-FB users shy away from the Quest at this point? Looking for opinions.

    • Blaexe

      I don’t think you’re losing any features specifically on Quest. But you won’t have access to all the social features.

  • trekkie

    Funny how guys here think they are too smart and claim that they will never login to anything. And then they cry themselves hoarse when an anonymous troll bullies them and gets them all triggered.

    My point is that if you don’t have a minimum understanding of how the free online world works then perhaps you would better spending your time in the real world. Maybe go join a protest march or watch TV.

  • Sven Viking

    Seems like it could be kind of an issue with multiple family members using the same Quest, for example, but no simple way to switch accounts.

  • kuhpunkt

    Not shocking, still disgusting.

  • I wonder when the Facebook login will be completely mandatory… sooner or later that moment will come