Facebook accidentally left some embarrassing messages inside Oculus hardware

A friendly message from Facebook

MANY OF US feel a bit squeamish about Facebook watching us, even if we don’t feel squeamish enough to stop using its software. But as long as it isn’t actively bragging about its creepy reach, we can at least fool ourselves into accepting everything’s fine long enough to fire off another Instagram message.

Which is why the company’s latest mistake – while both quite amusing and a bit silly – is still one that’s pretty embarrassing. It seems controllers bundled in dev kits and retail versions of the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S have shipped with messages hidden inside for anyone reckless enough to crack the casing and see what makes them tick.

Like a fortune cookie, only considerably more expensive, you might find one of four hidden messages written inside your dev Oculus controllers:

  • “This Space For Rent”
  • “The Masons Were Here”
  • “Hi iFixIt! We See You!”
  • “Big Brother is Watching”

For a company routinely critiqued for knowing far too much about its users, the last one isn’t ideal.

Facebook’s head of VR product, Nate Mitchell, made the surprise revelation in a series of tweets on Friday evening – the company’s favourite time for slipping out bad news. “While I appreciate easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed,” he wrote, referring to hidden secrets for fans, rather than trying to change the subject to chocolate.

“The integrity and functionality of the hardware were not compromised, and we’ve fixed our process so this won’t happen again.”   

Given these affected controllers will likely become collectors’ items, Mitchell has almost certainly ensured that more Oculus controllers will be cracked open than would have been without the promise of a hidden surprise. Presumably, the company’s calculation was that this would have been a lot worse if a developer had found it by chance and shared the story around the web.

That or it’s a cunning ruse to sell more controllers as thousands of Oculus owners break their new products looking for a hidden message that isn’t there. µ

Further reading