Facebook has a problem with trustworthiness. From its earliest days when Mark Zuckerberg famously gloated about dumb users giving him their data to the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has been difficult to trust. Even knowing that, the company seems unable to avoid doing creepy things. In its latest blunder, Facebook accidentally left cryptic messages inside VR controllers like “Big Brother is Watching” and “The Masons Were Here.”
Facebook began integrating its social platform into Oculus as soon as it purchased the company. Founder and former CEO Palmer Luckey left the company following some uncomfortable political revelations, but co-founder Nate Mitchell still runs the VR segment for Facebook. According to Mitchell, Facebook accidentally left some “Easter Egg” messages inside several thousand touch controllers.
The messages like “This Space for Rent” and “Hi iFixit! We See You!” are amusing, but references to Big Brother and the Masons are the last thing Facebook needs right now. None of the messages were supposed to get beyond the prototype phase, but an unknown “mistake” meant they were also left inside production and developer hardware.
Mitchell says the functionality of the controllers should not be affected by the inclusion of the messages. Users probably won’t even know if they got one of the few thousand with the hidden text. Mitchell also notes that Facebook has corrected the error so no further secret messages will end up inside its controllers.
The messages on final production hardware say “This Space For Rent” “👁The Masons Were Here.👁” A few dev kits shipped with “👁Big Brother is Watching👁” and “Hi iFixit! We See You!👁” but those were limited to non-consumer units. [2/3] pic.twitter.com/po1qyQ10Um
— Nate Mitchell (@natemitchell) April 12, 2019
The messages are inside the Oculus Rift S and Quest controllers, so most consumers will never know if they have one of the creepy messages. The affected controllers will be comparatively rare, so they might even be worth something in the right corners of the internet.
Facebook reps say none of the affected units have shipped yet, but there’s no way to know which ones have the errant messages. Rather than toss out all the controllers and start from scratch, Facebook is just sending them out. Mitchell probably decided it was better to get out ahead of this before someone happened to find a warning about Big Brother inside their Oculus controller. That would have been even more awkward.
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