Facebook (now called Meta) is aware that many virtual reality headset owners don't like logging into Facebook. The requirement for Facebook logins caused a lot of bad blood and even resulted in some Quest VR owners being locked out of their hardware in late 2020. Today's Connect keynote saw Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg hint that the restriction may be ending. However, his comments raised more questions than answers and we don't know what they mean.
Zuckerberg spoke of the changes when he was discussing VR work applications. Here's what he said.
We have been focusing more on work and listening to your feedback, so we are working on making Quest more accessible with a different account than your personal Facebook. We are currently testing support for Work Accounts and will be expanding our efforts within the next year. This is an important issue for many people, I'm sure. Some people don't want their social media profiles linked to all these experiences. And Ill tell you more later.
Since 2020, Oculus Quest headsets (now known as Meta Quest headsets) have required that users create a Facebook account. Before the Quest 2s were released in 2020, users had the option of logging in with either Facebook or an Oculus-branded account. You will see some information shared between the services. VR users can use Facebook social options, but you can also keep separate profiles and friend lists.
This controversial choice led to Metas rebranding. Stratecherys Ben Thompson was told by Zuckerberg that the backlash created a sense of urgency for Facebook to remove its name from the entire company. After Connect, Andrew Bosworth, Meta CTO, also mentioned the problem. We are working to find new ways to log in to Quest, which won't require a Facebook account. This will be available sometime next year, as we have received feedback from the VR community. Bosworth stated that this is an area of high priority for us internally in a Facebook post.
Meta has many options for possible changes, but only a few of them will address the underlying issues.
Facebook has committed to one change so far: If you use Quest for Business, an enterprise-oriented program that will start testing in the coming month, you'll be able sign in to Facebooks newly announced Work Accounts system. Similar options were available to businesses under the Oculus For Business program. This is more of an innovation than a practical one.
Bosworth and Zuckerberg suggest that this is not the only change they see. However, Facebook is being cautious about the details. I asked Facebook if Quest headsets or the Horizon metaverse platform could be accessed using anything other than a personal Facebook account. A spokesperson simply reiterated Zuckerberg's statement.
Facebook's larger shift could be as simple as renaming Facebook accounts Meta accounts or Horizon accounts. Facebook will likely ask you to give some data. A more significant change could resolve a few of the major problems.
There are some initial setup requirements. Connect made Zuckerberg a commitment to allow you to sideload VR apps outside of Metas official store. However, you can't currently reach that point without a Facebook initialization process. Although it is unlikely, Meta could offer a basic setup without any account to allow you to sideload media on your laptop or other electronic devices.
While Zuckerberg pledged during Connect that you could sideload VR apps outside of Metas official store without creating an account, you can't currently do so without a Facebook-based initialization process. Although it is unlikely, Meta could offer a basic setup without creating an account. This would allow you to sideload media on your laptop or other electronic devices, bypassing the online Meta/Facebook ecosystem. Logins are available for festivals, schools, and other non-business organisations. Many schools, film festivals, as well as other organizations, use VR headsets. A typical business account won't be the best fit. Personal accounts of any kind, even those not specifically Facebook, will not work well. Meta has probably been thinking about this issue since Facebook has already acknowledged and encouraged all of these use cases.
Many schools, film festivals, as well as other organizations, use VR headsets. A typical business account won't be the best fit. Personal accounts of any kind, even those not specifically Facebook personal accounts, will not work well. Meta has probably been thinking about this issue since Facebook has already acknowledged and encouraged all of these use cases. Real names and public-facing profiles. When you join Facebook, your real name and limited profile data will be made available to anyone else. You can provide your credit card information for app purchases but any meaningful login changes should allow you to create a Meta account. It shouldn't use your legal name, unlike non-Facebook Oculus profiles.
When you join Facebook, your real name and limited profile data will be made available to anyone else. You can use your credit card to purchase internal apps, but any meaningful login changes should allow you to create a Meta account. It shouldn't use your legal name, just like non-Facebook Oculus profiles. Data partitioning. You can log in to Facebook and Quest with different accounts. However, both are owned by the same company. Facebook reserves the right to cross-check accounts so that it can ban stalkers or spammers from multiple services. Meta should allow you to explicitly separate the data from each account. This will prevent your Facebook News Feed engagement from generating recommendations on Quest store or Facebook disclosing the identity of a pseudonymous VR friend by recommending you follow their Facebook page.
Meta is well aware of the criticisms of its account policies. Based on statements by executives so far, we may not hear any more about the company's plans to address them until months later.