Oculus addresses Facebook privacy concerns

The VR company promises it doesn't share customer info, but may consider doing so down the road.

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We all know the dangers of clicking through terms and agreements without careful scrutiny, right? Unless you want to become one segment of a human centipede, you'll read every 300-page document carefully. Like the rest of us.

Somebody paid close attention to the terms and conditions that come part and parcel with the Oculus Rift. Last week, UploadVR raised concerns about the VR headset's privacy policy, specifically as it related to integration with Facebook, which bought Oculus for $2 billion back in 2014. Installing the software included with Oculus creates a process called 'OVRServer_x64.exe' and takes the extra step of granting it full administrative permissions.

The process exists to detect when the Oculus Rift receives power, and when your face slips into the headset, so it knows when to boot up the Oculus Home interface. But UploadVR found that agreeing to the terms and conditions gives Oculus and Facebook permission to gather data while you use the headset and integrate findings into marketing.

Oculus responded to UploadVR earlier this week, saying that "Facebook owns Oculus and helps run some Oculus services, such as elements of our infrastructure, but we’re not sharing information with Facebook at this time."

"At this time?" Indeed. Oculus concluded its statement, sent to UploadVR via email, by saying "We don’t have advertising yet and Facebook is not using Oculus data for advertising–though these are things we may consider in the future."

Harnessing Oculus's innate advertising capabilities is not a matter of if, but when. My Facebook feed is already inundated with top stories and ads curated to things in which I've expressed interest. VR headsets hold enormous potential to take that sort of advertising to its logical conclusion: watch videos in your headset, and let Oculus filter in product placement in the future.

Agreeing to terms and conditions is part of modern-day tech usage. Still, it's a little disconcerting to know that Oculus and/or Facebook could decide to flip a switch and do as they please with user data. Here's hoping we get an overt notification that data is being shared, rather than tiny print buried on page 157 paragraph 3 subsection G of an updated terms-and-agreements contract.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 6, 2016 2:17 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Oculus addresses Facebook privacy concerns

    • reply
      April 6, 2016 2:18 PM

      We aren't doing nothing, yet.

    • reply
      April 6, 2016 3:26 PM

      It will be fascinating to watch how Oculus and Vive will progress and develop over the next years. One being owned by a social media company and the other by a gaming one. Right now their offer seems to be quite similar, but it may be that their long term goals are quite different and at some point it will start showing.

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        April 6, 2016 5:44 PM

        I think it is already starting to show if you look closely.

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        April 6, 2016 6:09 PM

        I bet it will be something like Nvidia vs. ATI in the GPU wars. One year one will be the one to get, and the next year it will swap. They will both have pluses and minuses beyond just the hardware and how the work. It should be interesting.

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          April 6, 2016 7:40 PM

          Least expensive functional product will quickly become a leader.

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      April 6, 2016 4:59 PM

      Just get a Vive and avoid the Facebook tie-in bollocks .

      Or block any Internet access from these devices save software updates. Fairly simple to do.

    • reply
      April 6, 2016 7:38 PM

      Why is this 'O' face the image for so many VRticles (you can keep that word) for so many sites?

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        April 6, 2016 8:03 PM

        It is one of the Oculus PR images.

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          April 6, 2016 9:12 PM

          Did they supply it to you with a fucked up aspect ratio or did you do that???

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            April 6, 2016 11:53 PM

            my observational evidence is that their cms auto-fills to fit the header image size.

    • reply
      April 7, 2016 7:32 PM

      Suddenly the extra money for the Vive seems like it might be worth it. Does anyone know if the Vive EULA has a "big brother" clause?