The head of Facebook Reality Labs, Andrew Bosworth, released an internal memo called the “Big Shift”. In it he calls for the company to begin creating products and services that better balance the need for data and the expectation of user privacy. The memo was first released by Alex Kantrowitz at Big Technology.
“Starting in January we are changing the way we approach product development in FRL. Instead of imagining a product and trimming it down to fit modern standards of data privacy and security we are going to invert our process. We will start with the assumption that we can’t collect, use, or store any data. The burden is on us to demonstrate why certain data is truly required for the product to work. Even then I want us to scope it as aggressively as we can, holding a higher bar for sending data to the server than we do for processing it locally. I have no problem with us giving users options to share more if they choose (opt-in) but by default we shouldn’t expect it.
I don’t want us to just meet the consumer expectations for privacy today. I want us to differentiate our products on the basis of privacy. Let other companies scramble to keep up with us.”
As much as Facebooks has paved the way for more widespread VR adoption with their reasonably priced VR headsets and their upcoming update that allows families to share one headset across several accounts, they have been criticised over their long history of privacy issues.
All first-time sign ins to Oculus devices now require users to create or link a Facebook account. Facebook is effectively forcing Oculus users to take part in a separate service. The information may be private from other users, but how private is it from Facebook?
It will certainly be a long road for the team at Oculus and Facebook Reality Labs to regain the public trust and build back Facebooks image.