Facebook and Oculus: What You Need to Know

Whether you are “okay” with Facebook or loathe them with every fiber of your being, Facebook made a radical takeover of the Oculus VR platform. Before investing heavily into the ecosystem, you need to have the facts about what it really means and how it can impact everyone — not just the “Facebook haters”.

There are several unknowns about this whole situation, and we’re going to discuss those, too.

I’ll do this in an FAQ style to make it a bit easier to skim for answers and hopefully keep it as factual as possible; I do recommend reading it in its entirety. If you find any of this in error or have other information that would be useful to my readers, I would appreciate dropping me a line so I can represent this as factually as possible.

Note: The data in this article comes directly from the Oculus website’s announcement from August 18, 2020. The Facebook cut over was October 11th, 2020 at which point it became impossible for new users of Oculus products to own and operate these products without a Facebook account.

What’s Going On?

From the Oculus Website

On Jan 1, 2023 — all Oculus products will require a Facebook account. This is regardless of whether you have an existing Oculus account or not. You will be required to merge that account into a Facebook account.

New Oculus products (such as the Quest 2) will immediately require Facebook accounts — even if you have an existing Oculus account.

Anyone registering any Oculus hardware (old or new) with a new account after October 11th, 2020 will be required to have a Facebook account as their device’s only account.

Those with an existing Oculus account and hardware have a grace period to continue using their Oculus accounts and not merging/using a Facebook account. This grace period ends on January 1, 2023; 730 days from the time of this article.

Why are people reacting so negatively to this requirement?

Bottom line; some people don’t like Facebook. They don’t like the company, they don’t like being part of the advertising machine or maybe they want to remain anonymous on the internet. Facebook’s Terms of Service (called Community Standards) forbid anonymous usage of Facebook and they are cracking down — more than ever — on any attempts to mask your identity on Facebook.

Some people feel like they were bait and switched; when Oculus was sold to Facebook there were assurances that a Facebook account would never be needed to use the Oculus brand.

The reasons people are reacting so violently are numerous and diverse. Most reasons involve forced integration with a social media network that doesn’t allow more than one, real data account which is enforced by artificial intelligent “bots” that can disable accounts without human intervention or recourse.

I have a Facebook account already. How does this affect me?

Many people have a Facebook account — maybe they created one years ago and only use it as a single-sign on method. Some people have created “Fakebook” accounts specifically to use on the Oculus platform. Perhaps you created one for the sole purpose of checking out an old flame from high school, but haven’t used it since.

But the truth is, a lot of people have accounts — and a lot of them are in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards for any number of reasons; be it false information, types of content posted under the assumption of anonymity or dozens of other reasons set forth by Facebook’s standards.

Those with “fake” accounts will tell you that they have had them for years, and Facebook has never complained about it or challenged their identity. Conversely, there are those that have made simple data entry errors in their initial sign ups recently that have had their accounts challenged with demands of identity proof. Those failing to provide proof to Facebook’s standards have had their accounts terminated in an “incontestable” manner.

Between 2018 and 2019, Facebook removed 3.2 billion fake Facebook accounts. The year before they removed 1.5 billion. This trend shows that Facebook is serious about this identification and purging.

If you have a fake account? Chances are likely it will be eventually discovered and questioned. Should you fail to provide proof of identity, it will likely be terminated. Remember, if you signed up with a fake name and fake information — it will be impossible for you to prove the fake information you provided is real (or “true up” that account). Even if you change some of the fake data to real — they have ways of cross referencing it with data they have on you through shadow profiling along with 52,000+ points of data they keep on everyone; whether they are Facebook users or not.

People think if their fake accounts get terminated, they will make a new fake account and ride that one until it gets removed. However, it is very apparent that Facebook is making this more and more difficult — and there is more at stake than creating a new fake email address to sign up with.

Going forward, it could take your Oculus-tied content with it.

I have a fake account, so I’ll make a new, real one and the problem is solved.

Oddly, you’re then still in violation of Facebook standards which clearly state you can only have one Facebook account. Eventually, the data they have collected on the original, fake account will be cross referenced with the data they have on this “new, real” account.

Which account will they kill? Will they give you any warning? What will be the process for “truing up” accounts in this situation? What is the arbitration process to protect the consumer?

Many people have multiple fake Facebook accounts. What happens to those people that suddenly want to “make good” with Facebook?

There are a lot of questions like this that haven’t been answered and with AI doing most of the work, it will be hard to get any human compassion around these decisions.

When I create my Facebook, I’ll give them the bare minimum information to maintain my privacy.

While that isn’t “fake” or “false” information — unfortunately, that isn’t “proof of identity”, either.

One of the intended methods of combating this new requirement is to make a new, real Facebook with a real name and email — but there are no plans to use the account or provide any further identifying information.

I call these “TokenBook” accounts (like “Fakebook”) — meaning they are created for no other purpose than to tie it to Oculus or use as a single sign in; you have no intention of using any Facebook services with the account.

Aside from the fact that you probably already have a fake account (meaning you have more than one account — another violation; see above) but that “token” data may not be enough information (according to Facebook) to “prove” your identity.

It isn’t just “fake” information that Facebook is looking for. They want enough data to prove who you are. Real people are more valuable (which is why they are cracking down on fake accounts) assets for advertisement targeting and if they don’t feel like your TokenBook account meets their needs, they can (and will) query you for more data.

What might they ask for as “additional data”? Take a look at Facebook’s own page explaining what they want. I’m betting most of us aren’t comfortable with a lot of what they are asking for.

You aren’t valuable to Facebook as a “token” account.

Oh, and token accounts (as of December 2020) appear to also be in violation of the Facebook Community Standards as they can clearly terminate your account for “Empty accounts with prolonged dormancy”.

What happens to my Oculus content if my Facebook account is discovered as fake/incomplete/token and is terminated?

This sort of depends where on the “Facebook conversion” path you are.

If you bought a new Oculus device after the account requirements changed, then your device and content are under the sole control of that account. It makes sense that if that account is terminated, you lose access to the content you purchased and anything on the device that is locked behind that account.

It is worth noting that when Facebook terminates accounts, there is often no recourse in reopening that account. Will you be able to open a new account (one that isn’t fake) and true up your purchases to it? We don’t know. What if your account is terminated because you posted content that Facebook feels violated Community Standards? What recourse do you have to protect your content?

We don’t know.

If you’re still grandfathered into the Oculus Account only path, then at the very least you lose all the social media features tied to that device (you know, the functionality that Facebook took away quietly in the night at the end of December 2019?)

Will you be able to tie a new, real Facebook account to that Oculus Account after one is terminated?

We don’t know.

What we do know is that terminated Facebook accounts lose access to all their Facebook data; posts, photos, videos — without recourse in most cases.

There is no indication to believe that your Oculus content would be any different that other content you’ve agreed to use under the Facebook umbrella.

Facebook says that if I don’t use my Facebook account on Oculus, I will eventually lose access to Oculus stuff. What exactly is that?

We don’t know. Facebook has been rather vague about this.

What we do know is that if you’re not willing to use Facebook on your Oculus account today (at the time of writing) that you lose all social connection functions, the ability to add/chat/interact with friends and to play many multiplayer games online (at least in parties or with friends).

Facebook also claims this could be up to the developers if games you purchased will continue to work if you do not use Facebook. It wouldn’t make any sense for any developer to close the doors to non-Facebook sign ins.

Unless of course … they are owned by Facebook.

Beat Saber, Asgard’s Wrath … Facebook has been slowly buying up the big names behind VR development. It could have something to do with this.

If you’re no longer allowed to log into the Oculus system (because Oculus Accounts no longer work and you refuse to use Facebook), how can entitlement checks for your software be made? What if you have to do a factory reset? How do you get your “paid products” back?

We don’t know.

Can a non-Facebook user, wielding an Oculus-only account be held accountable to Facebook’s Community Standards?

If you feel you’re safe behind a rather anonymous Oculus Account; this may not stay true.

Could your Oculus Account be in jeopardy if you violate Facebook standards? Kind of looks that way — especially if you’re using an attached, “Fakebook” to said Oculus Account.

What does that mean? Exactly?

Your Oculus Account could be terminated because your attached Facebook account violates Facebook Community Standards. If you do not have an attached Facebook account — and you as a grandfathered Oculus user — violates Facebook Community Standards it is possible to have your Oculus account terminated.

My country provides protection against this sort of thing. Will it still apply to us?

According to Facebook? Yes.

This includes EU.

However, this may not be true. Recently, Oculus hardware sales in Germany have been stopped.

How does Facebook requirements affect families with Oculus products?

Here is a question that people don’t seem to be asking — and really should be.

Ever wonder why Oculus has a “13 and Up” age requirement? Most assumed that it had to do with children’s eye safety or something.

Oddly, even Oculus won’t tell you why — other than “it is what Facebook is doing”.

That’s the real key. Facebook uses 13 as the age of admission. You know why? Because children are protected by data “predators” such as Google and Facebook and any online service that has users below that age are subjected to COPA.

Let’s see a show of hands how many people reading this have violated Terms of Service and created a Facebook, Google or other account for their kids under the age of 13?

I know I have (Google, not Facebook; we’re a Google Home here and we need everyone on board to collaborate).

On Facebook, these accounts are in violation of Community Standards and are subject to termination.

So, you’re a family of five; two of your three kids are under 13 and you made/make them Facebook accounts to use the Oculus Quest under a separate profile (that way they can all have their own Superhot progress).

What happens if one of these accounts are terminated? Does that affect your standing in the Facebook world? Maybe — maybe not.

But what if Little Johnny gets on the Quest and finds his account terminated? Helicopter Mom just logs into her account so Johnny will leave her alone during yoga.

Johnny hops into some FPS game and starts acting like an asshat — teabagging his victims, trash talking, screaming at other players — touch virtual crotches and butts (all of this happens regularly now in Quest multiplayer games, by the way). Johnny is reported — and since Facebook has full access to your behavior and video playback in VR now, the behavior is confirmed and Helicopter Mom’s account is terminated — along with all the purchases she has made (presumably).

What happens if someone forgets to log out and the next user performs Community Standards violations? Who arbitrates that? Facebook isn’t big into arbitration — my guess is they would simply kill the account “irrevocably” like they tend to do with fake accounts.

What if you want to show VR to a friend who doesn’t have a Facebook account? You are responsible for his behavior and will be on the hook for any violations. Technically, that friend is “spoofing” your identity and that is a violation of Community Standards.

The honest answer is: we don’t know how this all will work and people aren’t asking enough questions.

Bottom line? Anyone under 13 can no longer use the Quest. It isn’t just a guideline — it carries a potential punitive action.

I read that this is just overblown “Facebook hater” and no one has really been punished or had account issues except for a chosen few that probably deserve it.

Nobody truly knows the depth and breadth of the impact Facebook punishment on its users. However, on Reddit, we have a post that has (at the time of writing) 100+ cases reported.

A tiny sampling of the aggregated list of those with issues.

Click here to view the Reddit post.

If millions of Quest 2s were sold, and Reddit represents a small percentage of Quest 2 owners and over 100 cases are reported there?

I would say the problem is very real — as are the risks of the consequences.

If I get banned, I’ll just make another account. I’ll use someone else’s account like a parent or spouse.

This is in clear violation of Facebook’s Terms of Service/Community Standards.

You are only ever allowed a single Facebook account. If it gets banned, you are never allowed to have another one. I wish I were making this up, folks.

From Facebook’s own Community Standards:

How about that?

This is pretty clear, isn’t it? Oddly, I bet a lot of people have never read this or even know the restrictions they have agreed to.

What you should take away from this is that if you’re banned and you use someone else’s account, they are now in violation of these terms of service and they can be punished as well.

So if I do something that Facebook doesn’t like, they can restrict my access to my Quest, terminate my account and deny me access to all of my Quest purchases? Forever?

If you dig through the multitude of people with issues listed in the link above, this looks exactly right.

Without a Facebook account (of which you get one — and it must be 100% real, verifiable data) you cannot use Oculus products. Your purchases are tied to that Facebook account.

If you get terminated, that account is lost and your access to the products purchased goes away.

Since you’re not allowed to create another account, you’re effectively cut off from not just your purchases; but Facebook as a whole as well as any future VR with Facebook being involved.

I’ve had a fake account for years and Facebook has never had a problem with it. Why should I be concerned about linking it to Oculus?

This is my write up from Reddit — slightly edited for this article. Since Facebook uses AI bots to handle everything, understanding why having a “fake account with no issues” isn’t the same as adding that account to Oculus.

As great as AI is? It still needs a trigger point or “something to watch for”.

There are probably hundreds of thousands of fake, token accounts out there that still work. Will probably continue to work as long as some sort of audit or trigger isn’t made.

If a token account (and I mean this as an account that is not falsified in any way, does not violate, but is not being used to consume the Facebook platform as intended — i.e. reading your wall, getting data regularly harvested and viewing ads, connecting with “friends”, etc. but for a SSO or you made one to protect you name/brand — a lot of people did that early on) sits in the ether with no activity, no illicit posting flags, whatever? I’m assuming (and I have ZERO insider knowledge here — but this is logical to me) then the bots Facebook use “to protect you” aren’t triggered and do not start an audit or validation process.

Connecting your identity via Facebook to Oculus is a trigger. You are asking to be audited in exchange for services rendered.

This is when your 10 year old FAKEbook account (that was tied to you by shadow profiles — you’re not THAT clever) is discovered. This is when your name is scrutinized because you used JAKE for Facebook and JACOB is on your Oculus billing statement. Because your phone number in Oculus (your mobile number) doesn’t match that old Facebook account’s phone number (your old land line).

This is when your account — no, your entire Facebook related existence — is scrutinized. Those quad accounts you set up, those little details you omitted, the fake picture you used … the sins of your past are now being dredged up.

If they find more than one Facebook account that is linked in any way (and with the tens of thousands of data points Facebook has collected on you without even using Facebook? That’s easy) to you? BOOM. Banned. No recourse, no salvation. You’re out — I SAID GOOD DAY SIR.

If any activity of yours has ever been flagged for TOS/CS regardless of Facebook account affiliation? It will be discovered during this audit process. BOOM. Your account is under review — please wait three weeks.

In the end, the disposition (whether you get away with it or not) isn’t what we should be focusing on here.

The fact that to use a piece of hardware you purchased requires THIS process at all? This is the problem. In some countries, it is illegal. Unfortunately, in the USA it isn’t.

Forget about whether or not the process worked out in your favor. Concern yourself that this process exists at all and why we (well, you — I’m not participating) are condoning it by purchasing the product and defending the process required to use it.

Banning Facebook users makes no sense — if you’re banned, you cannot buy content and make Facebook money from Oculus purchases!

Facebook has zero interest in revenue from Quest hardware or software sales and I’ll explain why. Facebook made 70 BILLION dollars last year. The text below was also adapted from one of my Reddit posts.

https://techcrunch.com/2020/05/18/oculus-surpasses-100-million-in-quest-content-sales/

They claim $100M in “Quest content sales” — but we all know that isn’t profit, of which they take 30%.

So now we’re at $30M that “Facebook made on Quest content”. We also know that any returns will not be counted. With no basis at all, let’s say a quarter of “sales” resulted in a refund (doesn’t seem to far off) — so let’s slice off $7.5M in “profit”.

Now we’re at $22.5M.

What did Oculus hardware lose last year? We have no legitimate cost-per-unit analysis, but most “console” hardware often sells at a loss margin. Let’s throw 20% out as a number. If you feel that is too high, feel free to adjust and do your own calculations — it doesn’t really impact the end result.

$400 a hit, times 600,000 units … loss of $80 per unit… That’s $4.8M in lost hardware sales.

That brings the profits down to $17.7M.

Anything beyond that is … even more speculation at best. What did it “cost” Facebook to “run” Oculus — the company — last year? That comes out of the profit pocket.

What about repairs, returns of hardware? Cost of doing business there? No idea.

The actual profitability of “Oculus as a VR company” — even at $17.7M (which I’m sure is generous) … accounts for just how much of that $70B Facebook made last year?

Oculus represented .025% of Facebook’s profits.

Why on EARTH would any company be interested in fostering a subsidiary with that little potential to make them money?

We know the answer. Facebook wants to own VR as a service — and your data is worth 99.975% more to them than you buying hardware (at a potential loss) or the “negligible” so called profit from game sales.

What should I do if I am concerned about all of this?

First, you need to consider whether you want to support the platform at all. Facebook is counting on the seduction of a $299 VR headset to convince you to play nice.

If privacy and Facebook are a non-starter for you? You’re better not to get involved at all and wait for competitor packages to come out (like the forthcoming DecaGear). Consider other headsets.

If you’re already part of Clan Facebook — as a fully legit user, using a real account and Facebook’s TOS/CS doesn’t bother you? You probably have nothing to worry about. I would very much recommend an audit of your account — make sure everything is legit; name, date of birth, your photo … as these are triggers that appear to be important to Facebook’s verification process. I would certainly take the time to review Facebook’s TOS/CS for yourself and understand they can change it at anytime without notifying you.

Facebook is under fire by the Federal Trade Commission at the time of writing for counter-consumer and monopolistic behavior. Your state’s congressmen and representatives should be lobbied by concerned constituents like you and you should voice your concerns about this sort of thing.

If you just gotta have VR from Facebook, my advice is to play it 100% by the rules with Facebook. No fake accounts, no multiple accounts, no token accounts and do not share your product with anyone else. Be compliant and they shouldn’t ban you (although many claim they have been terminated despite full compliance).

Just be sure you want to support Facebook’s dominance (and rules) over VR before you put a lot of resources into the Oculus brand.

I write, blog, record and review anything that interests me — including humanity, parenting, gizmos & gadgets, video games and media.

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