Let's just see who you <em>really</em> are under that mask of a positive-sounding Facebook policy reversal...
Enlarge / Let's just see who you really are under that mask of a positive-sounding Facebook policy reversal...

The Meta Quest virtual reality platform will soon be free of its Facebook mandate. Beginning in August, both new and existing Quest headset users will be able to use the system's default operating system and digital download store without tying their real- name social media accounts to the service.

A bad decision can be corrected with this course correction. I wrote about the dangers of virtual reality's "Facebookening" in 2020 after the Quest platform dumped its existing account system for required Facebook accounts. The decision forced a cross-pollination between the years of social media posts and messages and the years of virtual reality headsets on the market. We've never seen a level of real name compliance from other major Western computing devices.

The move made it very clear that anyone wanting to sidestep the rules would have to create a fake account. Even though it doesn't check for ID at account creation, Facebook can lock accounts if it finds suspicious activity. The company will usually ask for a photo identification in order to open an account. If a person changed their name to "Guy Incognito" and got stuck in a state of lock down, Facebook was well within its rights to keep the account locked.


Awaiting a better look at FB decoupling

Some of the most glaring issues will be corrected by the new Meta Account system. Will it suffice?

It's difficult to say whether or not this question is answered. The new account system isn't live yet so we can't test it. The ability to decouple Facebook identity information from a new Meta Account will be available in August.

How software-purchase transfers will work, what notices may appear on affected Facebook accounts after the transfer, and how aggressive the company will be about asking Quest users if they want to sever Facebook from their headset experience are some of the things we want to see. Meta has said that it will allow users to attach their social media credentials. As of press time, there were no answers to our questions about these concerns.

There is a question as to what traces of Facebook user data are left. We are still reeling from an allegation attached to a lawsuit about Facebook's policy to "undelete" seemingly deleted account data when requested by law enforcement agencies. Even if the claims are true, we already know that Facebook has made users' sensitive data available to bidders and openly manipulated social media experiences for the sake of experimentation. Facebook is in the business of harvesting as much user data as possible and keeping all relevant user records available for as long as possible, so much so that we've yet to find clarification about the company's new ToS disclosures.