Oculus, the VR headset maker owned by Facebook, has found itself embroiled in something of a controversy, following the discovery of some odd hidden messages inside new Oculus Touch controllers.
The messages are rather tongue-in-cheek – although likely too close to the bone for some – and are present on production hardware, when they were supposedly meant only for prototypes. Head of VR product at Facebook and Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell took to Twitter to explain what happened here.
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/po1qyQ10UmApril 12, 2019
Mitchell further clarified: “While I appreciate Easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed. The integrity and functionality of the hardware were not compromised, and we’ve fixed our process so this won’t happen again.”
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The messages are printed on cables inside the actual controllers, so you wouldn’t know they were there, unless you actually open up your controller (not something most folks will do, obviously).
That said, some of the denizens of Twitter are far from unhappy about this development, and in fact want to get hold of one of the ‘limited edition’ controllers (as obviously, going forward, these messages will be removed, as per Mitchell’s statement).
Indeed, there are also some folks who are suggesting this could be some sort of publicity stunt to raise the profile of Oculus ahead of the soon-to-be-launched Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S.
However, that seems rather unlikely given the ‘Big Brother is watching’ and ‘The Masons Were Here’ (presumably a reference to the Freemasons) messages, which have predictably provoked plenty of controversy with other net commenters who don’t see the funny side, particularly given Facebook’s recent track record with user data, one way or another.
Note that the Big Brother and iFixit messages were only present on a very limited number of developer kits, according to Mitchell, and not on Touch controllers destined for retail shelves.
Regardless of whether the messages provoked the ire of privacy rights activists or conspiracy theorists, the other potential problem here is the idea that those making the controllers are ‘messing about’ with production hardware, which doubtless won’t seem overly professional in some circles – hence Mitchell being careful to underline that the “integrity and functionality” of the devices remains unaffected.
That said, the other side of the coin being argued by many is that a few letters on a cable aren’t going to make any difference, and we should all have more of a sense of humor about this.
It’s just that some people find it difficult to laugh when it comes to anything related to Facebook and data, of course…
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