UPDATED! Editorial: Facebook Announces That It Will Require All Oculus VR Headset Users to Have Facebook Accounts (and Why I Have Bought a Valve Index as My Next VR Headset)

I am angry. Make that furious. Let me tell you exactly why I am so angry.

Facebook dropped a bombshell announcement today:

Today, we’re announcing some important updates to how people log into Oculus devices, while still keeping their VR profile. Starting in October 2020:

■ Everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account.

If you’re an existing user and already have an Oculus account, you’ll have the option to log in with Facebook and merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts.

If you’re an existing user and choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.

After January 1, 2023, we will end support for Oculus accounts. If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account. We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though we expect some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they include features that require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased. All future unreleased Oculus devices will require a Facebook account, even if you already have an Oculus account.

I have written on this blog, at length, about why I distrust Facebook and the reasons I first left the Facebook social network (here, here, here, and here). I would strongly suggest you reread them because I do not intend to rehash all my arguments here, again.

I only begrudgingly rejoined Facebook when it became clear that I would need a Facebook account to be able to use their forthcoming social VR platform, Facebook Horizon. At that time, I still naively felt that it was somehow important to include Facebook Horizon in what I hoped was going to be my continuing, comprehensive coverage of all social VR platforms on this blog.

But you know what? After today’s announcement by Facebook, I no longer feel the need to write about Facebook/Oculus products and services—and certainly not if it means letting Facebook strip-mine even more of my personal data than it already has to date. Enough is enough.

And so I have posted the following short update to my little-used, soon-to-be-deleted Facebook profile:

Today, Facebook announced that it will require *all* users of Oculus VR headsets (Rift, Quest) to create an account on the Facebook social network in order to use them. (Previous to this, you only had to create a Facebook account if you were using a few of their apps, such as Oculus Venues, or the upcoming Facebook Horizon social VR platform.)

Many of you already know that I quit Facebook (and asked them to delete all of the data it had collected on me) as my New Years resolution in December 2019. I only returned because I wanted to be able to write about Facebook Horizon, Facebook’s new social VR platform, when it launches later this year—and THAT required a Facebook account. So I rejoined, even though I have successfully broken my Facebook addiction and I rarely log in anymore.

Given today’s announcement, I have now changed my mind. I will be deleting my Facebook account again later this week, and I will no longer be buying any more VR apps from the Oculus Store. From now on, I will no longer be buying any Oculus VR headsets (my next VR headset will probably be a Valve Index).

I have had enough. This time, I am not coming back to Facebook. You can find me on Twitter (my handle is quiplash).

In addition, I will no longer be covering Facebook products and services on this blog. I now have zero intention of writing about Facebook Horizon, since after deleting my Facebook account, I will not be able to visit their social VR platform. Frankly, I no longer have any desire to see or participate in whatever Facebook is planning.

Also, I will no longer be purchasing any more VR apps from the Oculus Store, instead choosing to buy them from Steam (or directly from the developer, if possible).

I am currently the owner of an original Oculus Rift tethered VR headset (which I bought in January 2017), and an Oculus Quest standalone VR headset (which I bought as soon as they became available in May 2019). They’re well-made devices, which have not given me problems. But I can no longer in good conscience continue to support, in any way, the company that makes and sells them, from this day forward.

As Facebook has stated in their news release:

If you’re an existing user and choose not to merge your [Oculus and Facebook] accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.

And I intend to use that two-year window to sell or give away my Rift and Quest, and purchase only non-Oculus VR headset(s) from now on. At the moment, I am leaning towards the Valve Index, but we’ll see. I have time; a lot can change in two years. But I have checked and my computer is already powerful enough to run an Index:

My computer is already Valve Index ready!

UPDATE August 19th, 2020: Today, I put my money where my mouth is. I went and placed an online order for the complete Valve Index VR Kit. I am told that it will take eight or more weeks to get to me, because of coronavirus-related delays in production. That’s fine. I can wait. And I’m not going anywhere.

I will be boycotting Facebook hardware and software from this point forward. It’s time for me to kick the Facebook habit, once and for all.