It seems Oculus users are opting to use a secondary or stealth Facebook account, amid concerns for privacy violations. Facebook themselves have opened the door to privacy concerns after laying down the law with Oculus consumers. Soon, you will not be able to use your headset unless you are logged into Facebook.
Facebook have incurred the wrath of the GDPR watchdogs in Germany, and Oculus sales have been halted. The GDPR “coupling ban” effectively prohibits tying one side of an end user contract – the EULA you agree to before using an Oculus VR headset – to “the sharing of specific personal data”. This personal data is, of course, your Facebook account. The worry – for most gamers – is that they will start seeing personalized content on their Oculus, which is married to the content they interact with on Facebook.
In a statement provided to Heise Online, the HCDPFI (Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information) said:
“The obligation to create a Facebook account is legally extremely questionable, at least for those who have already bought a headset. Whether this also applies to new customers is definitely open to discussion. That should largely depend on the design of the contract, which we do not have.”Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information
Facebook have stated that all users must log in to their device with a Facebook account by 2023. The legality of this statement is in the balance. Europeans watch this space.
Maintaining Privacy With Your Oculus
Stealth Facebook Accounts
For those of us who do not have the slightest interest in Facebook, and for those who do not wish to tie their main Facebook account to their Oculus headset, there are solutions.
“Stealth Facebook accounts” are basically secondary Facebook accounts that do not have friends or any activity. You can set an account up quite easily, using the following steps…
Step 1: Register for a free Gmail or Hotmail email address.
Step 2: Log out of Facebook everywhere. Your phone, laptop, fridge etc.
Step 3: Go to www.facebook.com
Step 4: Register for a new account using the new email address.
Step 5: If you want to set the account up with a mobile number, you need to do it with a number you haven’t used with Facebook before. Alternatively, you can use a service like this: https://receive-smss.com/. Bear in mind, you may need this number again if Facebook asks for verification, and it is not 100% safe to do this.
Step 6: Verify by email/text
Step 7: Log in to your new account and set up your profile picture and other things that you feel necessary.
Step 8: Set the privacy levels extremely high. Here is a good guide to this: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/you-want-stay-hidden-facebook-read-this.html
When you have completed the steps above, you are able to use your stealth Facebook account with your Oculus headset.
A lot of the privacy issues remain unknown. For truly spectacular VR experiences, the Oculus and HTC units are the only real choices. HTC have done a great job of avoiding any of the limelight in the privacy arena. When Microsoft finally enter the fray with Xbox VR, they will find the route to market paved easier, by watching how Facebook navigate the waters with GDPR and other privacy laws.
Oculus News UPDATE: Oculus Quest 2 announcement 16th September 2020
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