Facebook accidentally shipped VR hardware with conspiratorial messages hidden inside
In the almost weekly tradition of Facebook talking about something embarrassing they did on a Friday, the company is now fessing up to the fact that thousands of their next-gen virtual reality headset controllers have “easter-egg” messages inscribed on internal components that weren’t meant to be on non-prototype editions.
“Tens of thousands” of unreleased consumer units have the phrases “This Space For Rent” and “The Masons Were Here.” written while some of the developer units have “Hi iFixit! We See You!” and, perhaps most embarrassing, “Big Brother Is Watching” inscribed internally.
The admission was made by Facebook head of VR product Nate Mitchell in a set of tweets.
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 company is gearing up for the releases of two new virtual reality products, the $399 standalone Oculus Quest VR system and the $399 PC-tethered Oculus Rift S. Despite being geared toward pretty different audiences, the systems will both share the same Touch controllers that this “issue” affects.
For the most part this is just kind of dumb and funny; it’s a bit embarrassing for a finished hardware product to have phrases with a conspiratorial slant inside of them, but it’s also affecting buyers in zero meaningful ways as it’s not visible unless you pry it open, which you have limited reason to do unless you are indeed iFixit.
That said, it’s better that they come clean rather than have consumers or developers pry their headsets open to find some of these phrases. For a company with so many privacy screw-ups in the past year, having your big hardware releases ship to some developers with ‘Big Brother Is Watching” inscribed inside isn’t the best look.