#938: F Reality Podcast Roundtable Discussion on Facebook & Privacy

I was invited to join the F Reality Podcast over the weekend with VR Oasis’s Mike, Nathie, Rowdy Guy, and Zimtok5 to be able to talk about this past week’s news about Facebook’s new requirement that all new VR users and hardware will be required to use a Facebook Login after October 2020, and existing users can still use their Oculus accounts on existing hardware until January 2023.

The brought me on to discuss some of the privacy implications of this change, but also to talk about the broader context of Facebook and their relationship to the VR ecosystem in light of my last two podcasts with VR indie developer Anton Hand as well BigScreenVR’s Darshan Shankar.

It’s a lively discussion, and represents a range of different perspectives coming from the gaming enthusiast demographic. I’m excerpting our 75-minute discussion from the F Reality podcast, and share some additional thoughts and takeaways at the end.


Here’s the video version of the podcast where our discussion featured here starts at 48:47

This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.

Music: Fatality

Rough Transcript

[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So this past weekend, I had a chance to participate in the F-Reality Podcast by a number of different VR gamers, Rowdy Guy, SimTalk5, Nathie, and Mike from VR Oasis. They've been doing this for a number of years. I think this is like episode 153. They do a weekly podcast where they come together to talk about the latest news. So with this past week, with the news of Facebook announcing that Oculus accounts were going to be going away and that everything moving forward is going to be consolidated into a Facebook identity, they had me on to be able to talk about this issue as well as some of my own privacy concerns and just to give a lot broader context to this issue. I was actually really happy to talk to them because I think they're bringing a lot of perspective from the consumer, gamer, and maybe some of their hesitations, but also just the other side in terms of all of the technology that's even made available from Facebook. There's a sense of urgency that I think I have as I go back and listen to this. panic of like, oh my gosh, this is really important. We should take a lot of consideration. And my preference usually is to put the microphone into other people and to let them speak and to let the merits of what they have to say be based upon their own experiences and authority. And when I'm put into this position, it's like trying to encapsulate all those other perspectives that I've heard from the wider community and try to say, OK, this is an important issue that we should take seriously. I think for me that is so concerning is that Facebook as an entity isn't just like a normal corporation. They're bigger than any government. They wield extraordinary amount of power over our own government, over citizens from around the world, 2-3 billion users, whatever it's up to now. There's little to no accountability. What happens at the structural level of Facebook is that Mark Zuckerberg, who has the majority of voting shares within the financial institution, so even the way that the company is run, is immune from any sort of outside shareholder voting power. They're essentially run as a totalitarian, authoritarian company that isn't necessarily even listening to their own shareholders. And it's that type of behavior that, for me, is the most concerning in terms of, this is what's going to happen, we're going to start to move forward, and we're not going to even be engaging in any sort of dialogue. To some extent, Facebook is like this mini-country, but yet there's no democratic representation or no way for the people that they're interfacing with to even have any sort of feedback and to talk to them. I think at a basic level, that for me is one of the more concerning things, aside from all the other privacy concerns that we'll be getting into. But I just wanted to set that out at the outset, saying that this is a major company and that any initiative to try to rein it in from governments and other entities just hasn't necessarily had any teeth to really make any significant difference. Any violations that have happened from the FTC or anything else, almost see it as an externalized cost where they will pay the fees for not complying with some of these regulations because it's more profitable for them to continue the way that they're doing business. And so that's a larger context for some of the issues that we get in here. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this conversation with the F-Reality podcast crew, Rowdy Guy, Zimtalk5, Nathie, and Mike happened on Saturday, August 22nd, 2020. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.

[00:03:26.210] Mike Cussell: So that is all the news. We've kind of blitzed through the news very quickly this week because, you know, we've got obviously an important thing to talk about this week. And this is why, you know, we got Kent on the show as well, because Kent's got a really unique perspective about particularly about Facebook and their privacy policies. And I think, you know, it will be really insightful to have his opinion on a lot of the stuff that's going on right now. So thank you again for joining us, Kent. And I appreciate you taking your time out of the day to talk about this. But. Let's get into the hot topic this week and that is that a Facebook account will be required for Oculus VR headsets moving forward and what I'll do is I'll go through word by word the policy changes and then we can kind of like talk about it from there. Listen up, starting from October 2020, everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account. So this is all new users that have never created an Oculus ID before and are coming into the VR ecosystem or the Oculus VR ecosystem for the first time. They will have no choice, but they'll have to log in to either that be a Rift, a Quest or whatever the next headset will be with a Facebook account for the first time. Then you've got, if you're an existing user and you already have an Oculus account, which many of us do, you will have the option to log in with a Facebook account and then merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts together, okay? So you've already got an Oculus ID, you've already enjoyed your quest, you have the option to merge your Facebook account with your Oculus ID. If you're an existing user and you choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus ID for two more years. After January 1st, 2023, Oculus will end support for all Oculus ID accounts. If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue to use your existing device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account. Oculus will take steps to allow you to keep using content that you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased. So that basically includes every one of us at this point. We've all got Oculus IDs. Some of us may have linked our Facebook accounts. Some of us may not. We can continue not linking a Facebook account up until January 1st, 2023. But after that point, online functionality is pretty much going to be non-existent without a Facebook account.

[00:05:49.222] Nathaniël de Jong: yeah well funny enough it already is right i mean if you want to use your quest at this point it's almost unusable without a facebook account you can't add any friends you can't accept any friends you can't invite them for a game you can't record on the device you can't really do much so you're buying a headset with just a store that you can play games on and the rest is all locked behind a facebook account already so yeah do you have a choice

[00:06:13.703] Brad Peyton: i don't know but you don't have a choice this strikes me as so blatantly facebook style where it's like hey you know here's the gentle approach which is like the first six months of this option and then in comes the you know forced approach so one thing that is a little bit that's

[00:06:32.745] Mike Cussell: Before we get into the discussion, there is one more really important point that I just want to mention, which is part of the policy. They say all future Oculus devices from this point will require a Facebook account regardless of whether you've already got an established Oculus ID or not. So just hypothetically, and to make it crystal clear for everyone, say us, we all want to use our Oculus ID and we're like, okay, we'll just use it for another two more years. say we want the brand new oculus quest or whatever the next headset is that gets unveiled in a few weeks time or oculus connect or whatever you have to log in using a facebook account using that device so if you're upgrading you have no choice basically and i think that's an important point to note yeah exactly and the problem i have a little bit is that

[00:07:13.642] RowdyGuy: You know, back in the day when Facebook bought Oculus and Paul Malek was still a spokesperson, I remember him saying specifically that you would not need a Facebook account in order to log in. And I think that is a little bit the thing that is aggravating a lot of people and which is a little bit, of course, a mixed signal. And what I think is this now is that Facebook sees its position so strongly in the market now. that it can actually push forward this kind of stuff, because they definitely did the balance. They knew that a lot of people get pissed off about this, but they also know that they have a very strong position in the market. So they did the balance between those two, and they said, our position in the market is strong enough in order to push this through now as well.

[00:07:55.780] Nathaniël de Jong: And I think that is worrying. They have a monopoly on PC VR and also standalone, especially standalone, because the Quest is the only consumer standalone headset you can buy. On the PC VR side, you could still buy something else, but those headsets are usually more expensive. So price-wise, they have a monopoly.

[00:08:14.333] Kent Bye: Wait, wait, you said they have a monopoly on PC. I don't think that's true. What do you mean?

[00:08:20.057] Nathaniël de Jong: On PC VR, on price, price-wise, headset price.

[00:08:24.540] Kent Bye: On headset price. Well, there's other competitors on PCVR. I wouldn't necessarily say that they're a monopoly there, but I think the concern here, and Palmer Luckey did actually post to Reddit, I don't know if folks saw that, on the thread, and he went through the things that he had said. He says, I guarantee you won't need to log into your Facebook account every time you want to use the Oculus Rift. You will not need a Facebook account to use or develop for the Rift. Nope, that would be lame, I promise. And he said, it's actually kind of interesting. He says, you know, I want to make clear that those promises were approved by Facebook in that moment and in an ongoing basis. And I really believed it would continue to be the case for a variety of reasons. In hindsight, the downvotes from people with more real world experience than me were definitely justified. So there's a bit of Palmer speaking on his own behalf, on behalf of the company. But yet there seems to be, well, there's a number of different strategies that Facebook has taken with social VR. And for whatever reason, probably a number of different reasons, but for whatever reason, all the different social VR apps that Facebook has tried have not been successful. It could be because of this fragmentation between having separate IDs and a big part of what they say they want to do is to create more coherent social VR experiences with chats, user and developer created events, live streaming, sharing to groups and parties. You know, this is all the stuff that from a technological point of view, they're going to help resolve some of the tension with getting into VR and connecting with your friends and doing it through the Facebook guy. The issue that I have is that forcing people to use a Facebook account means that you now have to abide by the Facebook Terms of Service and their privacy policies, which are actually a lot, have a lot more latitude for tracking what you're doing as an individual when you're not even in VR, when you're not even on the website. It's all of your off-world activities, all your purchases, everything you're doing. It's like the amount of data that they're collecting on you on third-party brokers is huge. And so for me, there's this underlying- That's a good point, actually.

[00:10:23.869] RowdyGuy: That's a good point, because what you're saying now is like, and I agree with that as well, like it's not the login that is the problem. It is where you log into, right? It's the data that they're collecting on the Facebook platform.

[00:10:34.858] Kent Bye: If you have a Facebook account, you have to sign the privacy policy, meaning that even if you're not logged in, even if you don't even use Facebook ever, all of your purchases you make, if you have a mortgage, what kind of games you're playing, like, Every app has a terms of service and privacy policy, and they're basically seizing all your data. And then in that privacy policy, they also say, we're going to make that data available to third parties, meaning that there's all these other entities that are out there that are selling data to Facebook that are aggregating all this information. And so what this means from an underlying level is that we're moving into a future where all this information of what we're doing in VR and outside of VR is sort of being put into this giant surveillance capitalism machine. And for me, the most worrying thing is that the way that the existing Oculus privacy policy is written is that everything you say or do or look at within VR could be recorded and used to be able to create psychographic profiles of you. There's a way in which a lot of this stuff is phrased in which it's, these are the ways that we're going to record this information in order to protect you for your safety and security. But at the same time, that same data could be used to surveil you and to track everything that you're doing. And because they're sort of unifying everything within Facebook, Facebook already has a giant surveillance capitalism machine. It's basically any sort of appearance of any separation between what Oculus was as a separate entity and now has literally functionally dissolved. One of the things that was not included in the original FAQ on the original day, but was published a day later because there was a technical glitch where it wasn't posted. But Oculus was originally Oculus VR LLC. That was dissolved on September 4th, 2018. It then became Facebook Technologies. Facebook Technologies was everything that was run under the auspices of VR. It was basically Oculus, VR, LLC became Facebook Technologies. Well, according to this announcement, as soon as in October 2020, Facebook Technologies will no longer exist and everything's going to be under Facebook Inc. So there's literally no differentiation between Facebook and Oculus anymore. There's no psychological difference. There's no legal difference. And I don't even know what that means with the privacy policies because they said they're changing the privacy policy, but they haven't released it yet. They're saying, we're making lots of changes and we're not going to show you until October. we're not going to actually see the privacy policy until after they've announced everything, presumably whenever Oculus Connect 7 is. So they're making a whole bunch of significant changes, not making anybody available for interviews or any questions, saying this is a decision that's been made, it's immutable, this is what's happening, this is what we're doing, it's not open for discussion or for debate, this is where we're going, and we'll make all the news and then we'll talk about it.

[00:13:17.636] Brad Peyton: But would you expect, so there's a massive cost for compliance with changes like the Californian laws, GDPR, a number of different pieces of heavy legislation that have been basically a gun pointed directly at Facebook. This move to me helps to resolve that in the Oculus quadrant because if they can merge their privacy policies it's in the direction of their business, I think, as you've mentioned before, but it also means they don't have to go and rework what they've done, pay all the teams in every country to reassess that, and they're unifying, and that has major cost benefit to them in terms of the cost of compliance to local laws and regulations. So I think that could be driving, in part, part of this decision where it comes to Oculus, as Oculus is clearly growing and with the Quest sales, you know, instead of doing that work twice or three times, I mean, they've got so many companies now that are umbrellaed under Facebook. But I'm really, I wanted to ask kind of a specific question. Aside from the points that you've just made, Kent, in terms of, in particular, the two interviews, and I want to, again, redirect, like Mike said, I spent the three hours to listen to both of those with Anton and with Darshan. Is there anything that you took from those conversations specifically like something that was a surprise to you or a point of view that really kind of like a tuning fork resonated with you and you thought coming away from those conversations with those gentlemen, oh this is something that Facebook is clearly doing or your mentality about the whole change shifted a little bit?

[00:14:56.158] Kent Bye: Well, the challenge with this topic is that Facebook is saying something and then they're doing something. And then there's their behaviors that we're not saying that they're doing. And to extrapolate what their true intentions are is near impossible because there's usually a mismatch between what they say they want to do and what they're actually doing. And so for Darshan's example, it was like they want to cultivate a developer ecosystem. But at the same time of cultivating a developer ecosystem, that cultivation of developer ecosystem, there's certain aspects of that ecosystem that Facebook wants to completely dominate, own and control completely. And so there's some anti-competitive behaviors that are there that are maybe driving, like if you're doing games, great, that's fine. You're not gonna have any problem. But if you're doing any sort of like business applications or big screen social VR apps or media consumption, like big screen is trying to sell movie tickets, but because Facebook wants to do that, then Darshan has to give 60% to 80% to the content creators. And then on top of that, 30% to Facebook because he's using the payment processing system, which means that he's actually taking a loss for every movie ticket that he sells. And Facebook's just like, well, you should just change your business model. And he's like, Well, Facebook is like, so Facebook is essentially saying, if you want to do media consumption, it's we're going to make it literally impossible for you to do that because it's not financially viable for anybody other than Facebook to do that. Yeah. And so there's entire industries that Facebook is potentially limiting because they want to do that and they're not going to allow other independent developers. And so whether that's rejecting people from the app store or kind of giving the runaround or having these non-negotiable policies that kind of make it impossible for certain industries to flourish. So there's this control aspect there. And from Anton, you know, Anton is somebody who has for a long time taken a very ideological stance of saying, I'm not going to deal with Facebook at all. And it's like a very extreme position. And so from Anton's perspective, he's assuming the very worst possible scenario for who Facebook is and what they're doing. And then there's the most charitable interpretations that is like, OK, here's the most exalted ways that, you know, this is just they're trying to just run a business. And there's a lot of pragmatism that comes into this. They have to pay for VR, all this investment. And so for me, it's a challenge to say, OK, Facebook are doing these things like they're saying they want to do these social features. But is it really just to kind of turn VR into the worst surveillance capitalism machine that ever existed? And the issue that I have is that there's no transparency or accountability to know whether or not that's actually happening or not.

[00:17:22.921] RowdyGuy: According to privacy policy. Yeah.

[00:17:25.602] Mike Cussell: And I think that was one of the things that I highlighted as well is that, you know, the information came out, it was very blunt and to the point and didn't really give any explanation as to why this is so important or why we should care as consumers moving forward. And this is where I said, and we've mentioned it on the show many times before, is that, you know, having a front person, a face of the company that can deliver these important updates in a clear and transparent way, to negate any confusion or misunderstanding is so important. But it seems that they just don't do that. You know, they don't have this one person that the community can link to to say, oh, OK, I understand what's going on. They've explained the rationale behind it.

[00:18:06.291] Brad Peyton: But haven't they been barred by that? Like, I mean, especially with the Oculus history, I mean, they had Palmer in that seat for a time, and then that bit him in the ass hard on several occasions where Palmer, you know... Well, look at this right now with his comments again being, I suppose, you know...

[00:18:20.153] RowdyGuy: There is not a single person that you can now, like, flounder your anger to. There is no single person like that. So it's very hard now from a consumer perspective to, or from a professional perspective, to find that person in order to connect. Just like Ken said, it's so hard to get someone to talk to because there's not a single person out there. And that's exactly what they want, I assume.

[00:18:39.720] Kent Bye: Well, so Facebook as an entity, I don't know if people are aware of this, but Mark Zuckerberg has a majority share of Facebook, meaning he has the most amount of votes. It's basically a totalitarian dictatorship where one person has control over the entire future of that company. And there are certain shareholder ways in which they're trying to fight that. But that type of top-down, authoritarian, totalitarian, command and control style is a part of the cultural DNA of the company, meaning that things come down and they kind of have these different levels in which decisions are made. So what I got from Darshan is that even though he was talking to the developer relations people and the developer relations people were kind of like have their hands tied in terms of how much they can actually change things, because it's a decision that's been made up at a much higher level that's saying, OK, this is the way that things are going to be. We're not going to change on this policy where and it's a policy where you look at what's happening with the iOS and Android and Tim Sweeney on this lawsuit that he's bringing forward against Apple, saying that this is essentially a functional monopoly where you have complete control of what can and cannot exist on the Apple store. And he's trying to invoke the Sherman Act of 1890 in the United States, saying that this is anti-competitive monopolistic behavior and that he's did this kind of performative action to bring about this lawsuit. But, you know, we'll see what happens with that lawsuit to see if Epic Games is able to actually break up this app store monopoly. But if you look at how the web has developed, it was an open platform. And then once mobile phone came along, then you have the app store model saying that these app stores are going to own and control to filter what can and cannot be on there. And then by the way, any transactions that happen in that platform, we're going to take a 30% cut. And when I talked to Chris Pruitt, he's the head of the content ecosystem. He's like, we're using that app store model. Essentially, they're seeing how much of a financial boon that can be to be able to own All commerce and interactions that happen on that app store model, they're looking to see what has happened with the mobile phones, and they want to take that same app store model and port it over into VR, where any sort of commerce or transactions that happen. So, you know, it's one of the things that Darshan said, like e-commerce or stores. you know, that would potentially threaten that type of app store model. Or what happens with the stream link from Guy Goodwin, which was the virtual desktop, being able to stream a game that was paid on an app store that was not the app store that was being controlled by Oculus, that would sort of be the existential threat of having complete control. And what Darshan said is that, you know, Apple often say that this is due to privacy and security, that we can't have people that are coming in the back end and having control of the pixels on your screen because we don't have the ability to have any oversight over that. But what that also means is that you can't functionally have any sort of competing ways in which people are having to buy things. And so to have like this stream link to be able to stream games that were bought through Steam onto your quest is like this existential threat. And so E. Goodwin had to take that feature and put it into SideQuest and separate it off so that people could still have access to it. But those types of features are also being rejected. So we kind of see a similarity what's happening in the App Store model, the same thing that's happening here at Oculus.

[00:21:43.853] Mike Cussell: But one question is like most people, I would say, are fairly fine with the Apple App Store model. But the response from the community has been overwhelmingly negative about this move in particular. Why do you think that is? Like, why do you think the community are so upset about it? You know, is it just because it is Facebook? Do you think that they're so upset? Or do you think, you know, like I sort of said that, you know, the hardcore VR community are upset because they feel like Facebook have gone back on their word and broken a promise that Palmer promised, you know, six, seven years ago. Why do you think people are so upset? Is it because of Facebook's track record of like handling data that they're so upset or, or is it something else?

[00:22:25.395] Kent Bye: Well, first, I would say there's a valid argument that people can make that saying Oculus has already been owned by Facebook. You know, everything in the privacy policy is going to be the same. Like, I'm not a lawyer. And so I don't know. And I haven't seen the new privacy policy. So I don't know exactly what the new shift is going to imply. But at least from the impression is that Facebook as an entity has had terrible public relations in terms of what's happening with hate speech, what's happening with the hijacking of democracy, the Cambridge Analytics scandal, the ways in which suicide is going up, the ways in which that they try to hijack your attention and to keep you locked into kind of mindlessly scrolling onto Facebook. And the more that you do that, the more money that they make. But there's also the aspect of the surveillance capitalism, which is that not only the stuff that you're doing, but there's like Facebook pixels that are tracking you, what you're looking at on the websites. So even if you're not looking at stuff, even if you don't have an account, there's ways that they're fingerprinting you to be able to determine what device you are. Even if you're using the most sophisticated VPNs, there's ways that you can do different fingerprinting and extrapolate your identity. So they have this big giant machine that is pulling in all this information on you. And that is Facebook's business model, that surveillance capitalism. And so when you say we're going to like take VR and now all of a sudden we're going to be putting it into this basis of surveillance capitalism. On top of all the other things that Facebook has done with terms of undermining democracy to filter bubble aspects, the genocide in Myanmar, where they're sort of like people were sort of actively inflaming the hate speech. You know, there's all sorts of ways in which Facebook is way too big. They're trying to do too many things for too many people. They don't have the people that are experts at each of these different communities are involved with. And the result has been sometimes when you have these unfiltered platforms for people to be able to read fake news and disinformation, it actually sort of undermines the fabric of democracy. So when you take Facebook and all the issues that they have with that global scale of billions of people, and now you're sort of taking all that baggage and saying, now we're going to like completely tie that into VR. So if people may have had some sort of psychological or physical distance between still using VR because that's separated, that separation has now functionally been dissolved. And, you know, there's some people that literally can't have associated with whatever they work in education, the privacy laws in the EU. What's it mean if you have a Facebook account? I mean, there's there's ways in which that this decision actively prevents a lot of people from being able to even use the technology because they have all these other issues with privacy aspects, whether it's education and therapy and doctors and whatnot. And there's enterprise that is not changed. Like there's still ways. But there's like a two and a half. It's like a thousand dollars per headset. But even to get.

[00:25:03.024] Mike Cussell: Go on, go on, buddy. Yeah, true.

[00:25:05.440] RowdyGuy: Yeah, I got like two questions. First off, I think that you perfectly illustrated like, you know, why people should care about that. The first question I had was, is that maybe the difference between, for example, Facebook collecting data and because almost all companies collect data to some format, but is the difference between Facebook and those other companies just like the extent to what they collect data? And the second question I had was like, could you maybe like draw a worst case scenario for like the average Joe? So just to get people to understand why it is important that you care about the privacy of your data. Because I have a lot of data, a lot of people telling me, saying, oh, I don't do anything wrong. I don't care what they do with my data.

[00:25:48.393] Kent Bye: Here's an example that I think it kind of grounds it. So Facebook has a real name policy. That means if you have an account on Facebook, that means you have to, in some cases, submit a government ID in order to prove what your real identity is. So Facebook is going to have your actual identity tied to you as an individual. There's ways in which that that information could be potentially separated. But if there's a real name policy, and let's say that you're in VR and that you're someone who's transgendered and your sex is different than you're presenting. But what if that's illegal and where you live, like, say, Russia? That type of information could potentially, based upon the default settings of Facebook, be automatically broadcasting out your actual identity. You'd be able to tie your identity to what's happening, and that could be then potentially submitted to the government. Well, there's ways in which that you could use biometric data to be able to track what you're looking at, like, say, eye-tracking data. you can determine someone's sexual preferences by what you're looking at and what you're paying attention to. And if that is being tied to your actual identity, in the United States there's something called the third party doctrine, which means it's the fourth amendment. The fourth amendment is preventing unreasonable search and seizure. Well, according to U.S. law right now, there's a third party doctrine that means that any information you give to a third party has no reasonable expectation to remain private. That means that the U.S. government can go to Facebook without a warrant and get all that information. So imagine a government who has authoritarian, totalitarian impulses wants to get all the information that you've looked at, what your emotional profile is, what you've done in VR for the last 10 years. And now all of a sudden the government has access to that information. And what if the government disagrees with what you say and they want to frame or do whatever else to blackmail you? Or, you know, in some cases, it's illegal to have certain sexual identities in some countries. And so you could literally go to jail and lose your life. So that's sort of like the most extreme example. But I think a more mundane level, it's the fact that what we do and say and what we're looking at, what we're experiencing VR should be ephemeral. It should not be surveilled. It should not be recorded. It should not be on our public record. And when everything is being surveilled and tracked all the time, that prevents you from actually expressing your full and the United States First Amendment rights of free speech. Because if you know you're being watched, then you don't know who's listening and you don't know where that's going to end up. And so it actually stifles the freedom of expression because you're being watched. In my talk with Darshan and BigScreen, BigScreen has like a peer-to-peer encryption, right? So there's certain aspects of, part of the reason why BigScreen is so successful is because it's private. It has like architects for privacy where you know that you can be talking to your friend without necessarily being surveilled. Unless, you know, caveat is unless you're using Facebook technologies, which at the operating system level, they could potentially turn on that mic and listen into whatever you're saying. And all of this is in the privacy policy for them to be able to do that. And when I talked to them a couple of years ago, it was like for Oculus venues, as an example, you'd be able to kind of record what you say and do in order to potentially fight harassment. It's like a safety and security issue so that you need to be able to have access to record what you say and do. But if you have access to what you say and record and do, and that's in the privacy policy, it's not determining what context under which they're able to do that. And if they change that context, I mean, even if it's not being done today, they could start recording tomorrow and there's no obligation for them to tell you what the recording, what the context is, in some cases for you to have full access to that. So that's sort of like a broad, like there's a lot of like dimensions there of how this could go horribly wrong. The biggest thing for me is that the third party doctrine means that all information that's shared with the third party is essentially public, meaning that the government can have access to it without a warrant and that it basically creates all these situations where everything you're saying and doing could end up into the hands of some surveillance state, big brother.

[00:29:41.550] RowdyGuy: And if you compare that, for example, to the privacy policy of like HP Reverb or the HC5 or Valve Index, do you have any knowledge about how they do it there, about the data collection, the selling to third parties?

[00:29:56.626] Kent Bye: A lot of the, Facebook is the most explicit that they're doing this. The other ones don't have necessarily, like they're not ad driven models. So like Microsoft, for example, they have pretty strong, like, you know, they're not like necessarily recording this, but I'm just going to read this little passage. So, because this is what the Facebook privacy policy says that they're able to do. So information from third party partners. These partners, so the people from the outside third parties are providing information about your activities off of Facebook, including information about your device, websites that you visit, purchases that you make, ads that you see. So just out there on the web, what ads are you seeing? Like not even on Facebook site, but other ads that other people are serving to you and how you use their services, whether or not you have a Facebook account or are logged into Facebook. And so so they're receiving information about your online and offline activities and purchases from third party data providers who have the rights to provide you with your information. Now, you may be making a purchase, but you don't know that because you're making that purchase, you've signed a terms of service. That means that that purchase can then be sold to Facebook. And Facebook is dealing with all these data brokers to be able to aggregate all this information into one place. So all of your all your information is designed to create a psychographic profile so that they can sell ads for you.

[00:31:11.773] RowdyGuy: But if you, for example, look at the Steam policy, like the kind of data that they collect there, I don't know if you are familiar with that, but I just looked it up. But they also collect, for example, just the general basic account data, the transaction payment data on Steam, other data that you explicitly submit. But they also do like they do tracking data and cookies as well, where they have cookies that are text files, of course, that are placed on your computer that they collect as well. And what they do with that kind of data is... Wait, let me check. So they do not sell the personal data, but they do provide access to the category they collect as necessary following business purposes. So is that maybe where the difference is between like, for example, a company like Facebook and a company like Valve or Steam in that specific sense?

[00:31:53.575] Kent Bye: I think the difference, first of all, we haven't seen what the new policy is for Oculus. They haven't shown it to us. So that for me is actually one of the more concerning things is that they're saying they're changing it, but they're not showing it to us. So people like myself could read it and say, you know, thumbs up or thumbs down. I suspect that it's actually going to be even more stuff being reported based upon what new announcements are being made. And maybe they don't want to tip people off about what it is. But the difference, I think, is that if you look through the privacy policies, it's to sell ads to you. And what what that means is that they're they're watching and tracking your activity. There's a frequently asked questions that Facebook posted. And there's this question. I just want to read through the answer because I think it's pretty striking. It says, can I choose to not share information about my VR activity with other Facebook apps and technologies? And the answer is no. Even if you don't log into your Oculus device using your Facebook account, we will use your VR information to create a consistent and safer experience across Facebook apps and technologies. For example, taking action on an Oculus account if it's flagged for spam or abuse. So again, they're sort of saying this is for your safety, but like your activity, your VR activity, like what does that mean? Your VR activity? They can see all the pixels. They can see what you're looking at. They can look at what's happening. And it's the way that the privacy policy is written is that they can basically capture all of that. They can know your entire context and know what's happening in your virtual world. And there's no option to not have them track it and use that to be able to psychographically profile it.

[00:33:22.141] Nathaniël de Jong: But is this also the reason why their headsets are becoming cheaper and cheaper? Oh, absolutely. Because in the end, you pay with your data. So let's say the price itself is pretty low.

[00:33:32.902] Kent Bye: Yeah, it's one of the things Darshan said is that these Quest headsets are heavily subsidized by this.

[00:33:37.664] RowdyGuy: Of course. That's the motto, right?

[00:33:40.345] Brad Peyton: But that's the whole point. This is my main point of contention with the excitement over this announcement is how did people not realize what they were getting into if they were getting into bed with an entity like Facebook? I mean, unless you join the show, so to speak, backed with a DK1, then Facebook was part of it. And the device you were buying was owned and operated by Facebook. And it's like, I don't understand. What is the surprise factor in this beyond, let's say, what Palmer had stated for someone who had bought a device on the premise that I'll never have to get a Facebook account, and hence then maybe be protected from the tracking that Kent just described? But for me, it's like, That turning point was when we heard the announcement prior to the DK2 being shipped that Facebook had bought Oculus. And it's like, at that stage, you decide, like, either you're in or you're out. And this is only what was expected. So I don't really understand why so many people are as hot on this topic as they are, beyond the concerns that a corporation, any corporation, to Rowdy's point, would be manipulating this data. And I think that's where regulators come in.

[00:34:51.725] RowdyGuy: And they should govern the space appropriately. I looked at the HP Reaver privacy policy as well, and I brought it up here as well. And there they specifically state that they may use the information they have collected from yourself to enable us to display advertisements to our advertisers, target audiences or from us. That's a similar kind of model as what Facebook is doing as well, that they use information, they collect information in order to sell that information to their advertisers so they can do more targeted ads. If I'm correct, that's kind of like what they do. But is it then, like I said before, is it the extent of the data that Facebook collects, not only from virtual reality, but also from your Facebook profile, your general website activity, that they just have that enormous, like you said, machine that is just pouring in data, pouring in data that all those other companies don't have access to.

[00:35:39.615] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that's an important point that having a Facebook account means that you sign to the Facebook terms of service and privacy policy, which, as I said, is a lot larger. Any sort of psychological and legal and privacy policy difference has now evaporated. So if people have opted out of wanting to be having all of your activities tracked and watched, you have the option to not have a Facebook account. But I think this is forcing people back in who have made maybe decisions to not have a Facebook account for these other reasons. Maybe it's political or these other things. But it's my problem is that they haven't necessarily even made anybody available to talk about this. It's like I think that is the problem. This is a decision that's made, it's immutable, it's happening, but we're not even going to talk about it. And it's like, wow, okay, this is a huge issue. And people, if you look at the ratios for the announcement, it was, I think around 86% of the people had retweeted it with the comment. They're not just retweeted, but like 86 percent of the people were like had some issue enough about it to say something about it. Usually they were disagreeing with it. So it's not a popular decision. And the fact that they didn't even make anybody available to even speak about it or to explain it or to say, you know, no, no, we're we're not.

[00:36:55.871] Brad Peyton: But that's not even the norm, though, is it? I mean, like you expect the company to kind of come to the public and ask them, you know, where they're going to turn their corporate strategy. Like, is that the norm? I really am asking this from a point of From what I've seen in the sector, that isn't the norm.

[00:37:09.960] Kent Bye: But if you look at what Valve, I'm talking to Anton. He said that in his relations with Valve, you know, they invited him up to go try out some of the Valve index to get feedback. You know, they're actively engaged with cultivating a developer ecosystem and their end conversation and dialogue with their community. And Facebook is just simply not in dialogue with the community. Decisions are made and they're sort of thrust upon us. And that's the issue that I think it's like, it's not whether or not this benefits the community and whether or not it's going to help. There could be a lot of amazing social applications that are enabled with this that we have up to this point never seen before that this new change is going to enable. But I think it's more of the top down, like not being engaged. And I think if you're trying to cultivate a developer ecosystem, then there's a lot of people that this changes a lot of things from either their community, from their business plans, if they're working in education, as an example, or whatever. It's like there's a lot of these different implications that without talking to people about it and giving them a heads up, there's no way for people to even hear about stuff that they haven't even thought about.

[00:38:17.853] Brad Peyton: That is a style choice, though. I mean, I would say, though, from what Anton described, it is consistent with my interactions with Oculus and Facebook over the last, say, three years. You know, not gathering a crowd around it. I'm talking from the developers I've spoken with. I know you've had a very broad array of interviews. I think you were saying about 1,500 or so. Some of those will be obviously developers, and some of them will have spoken, I'm sure, off the record about some of this stuff. The point is, I think I see that as a style choice, and I think a company can operate that way. My biggest concern here, and you touched on it earlier, Kent, is we've been talking about where the Quest particularly is in the market and where Oculus are with their hardware and software. They've arguably got the best hardware and software products years ahead of the competition. They've got it at the best price, which I think we all acknowledge you're getting that best price because you're selling your data, or they're selling your data, you know?

[00:39:14.189] Kent Bye: Just a clarification, they're not selling your data to other people. They've been clear that all the data they're collecting, they're making them available for ads to come in to be sold for you. So that's different than being a data broker. That's a big difference.

[00:39:27.102] RowdyGuy: Because they don't share the data. They let you buy an ad and they target the audience.

[00:39:32.907] Brad Peyton: But then then the stuff comes in, like you were talking about the Cambridge Analytica piece. And I'm trying to remember the great documentary I watched that totally flipped my mind on all of that. The Great Hack. The Great Hack, yeah, which is available on Netflix if you've got Netflix. And that is like those practices are, I think, in terms of mentality manipulation, should be illegal. And I think the regulators haven't caught up with that yet. I think that even the massive justice cases that we've seen in a variety of countries, but obviously targeting the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter and others. Like, that movement is coming, but as we've seen it, it's really slow. And I think the U.S. isn't helped out by its current leadership at the moment because there's so much chaos happening in that sphere, let alone 2020, that unfortunately companies can kind of get away with what they want to do. And I think this is just another example of that. This is another one of those, like, while the chaos is happening, while the hurricane's blowing, We'll do what we want to do. In a couple of years, they'll get caught up with and maybe they'll get a slap on the wrist or told not to operate that way. I'm not happy with the change, but at the same time, I think it's kind of expected behavior is where I'm sitting on it.

[00:40:41.859] Nathaniël de Jong: You know what I think? It's a shame that this divides the VR community and it might also divide it continent-wise because in Europe we have different laws in terms of privacy. So that will also be interesting to see where can we still play with other people? Can we still communicate like the way we did it? I don't know.

[00:41:01.325] Brad Peyton: I think

[00:41:18.135] Nathaniël de Jong: that from a point of understanding in detail. With VR, we're going to have eye tracking, we're going to have all kinds of stuff. So data will have a total new level of, and that's where things are going to change. So Kent, you said like, so the policy, you can't get into it right now. You can't see what they're up to. Do you think they're going to do this?

[00:41:36.227] Kent Bye: Well, the changes. You have the existing policy, but the changes have not been... Yeah, the changes. No, no, no, the changes. We haven't seen the changes yet.

[00:41:41.988] Nathaniël de Jong: So the changes, do you think they're going to kind of wait it out until Oculus Connect 7? Like, we all know a new headset is going to drop.

[00:41:48.490] Kent Bye: Is that the moment or just going to do it in between the pages and then... I think they're going to make all their announcements sometime in Oculus Connect, presumably sometime in September, which is usually what's happened. They're not going to show us the privacy policy until October. So to me, that's just like, but that's weird because you're selling a new headset.

[00:42:05.152] Nathaniël de Jong: So if you make those changes, like those are important changes. Why? Why do you sell something new?

[00:42:10.417] Mike Cussell: But I think it's because most people wouldn't necessarily go that far to look into like who reads the small print. That's the point.

[00:42:18.543] Brad Peyton: The legal side of this is you need to share that policy when you present to a user the user agreement that they then sign up to for access to the device. So when you're presenting the new device, when no one's got it, they don't need to share it at that point and they're probably still going through legal revisions at that stage.

[00:42:34.554] Kent Bye: Before they launched their previous privacy policies, they gave me an opportunity to look at it. Interesting. OK. So there's no reason why they can't share it with me unless there's still changes that are being made. Maybe there's still there could be legitimate reasons for why they're sharing it, but that's a decision they've made to not share it. And maybe there's no other legal reason.

[00:42:53.821] Mike Cussell: balance things out a little bit because we've heard about like you know some of the like the worst case scenarios here and I know you're an optimist and I'm an optimist as well Ken but do you see any like positives coming out of this like in your mind is there something good that can come out of this and and make all this kind of justified?

[00:43:11.323] Kent Bye: Well, I mean, if you look through the post that Facebook has announced for why they say they're doing this, it's through chats and chats with friends, user development, created events, organized tournaments, multiplayer games, live streaming. So share your game with your Facebook timeline, sharing to groups, post to VR related Facebook groups under your VR username, parties, create open parties to meet up with your friends in VR. I think generally it's just like trying to lower the friction for how to meet up in VR. Yeah. Like if you want to just like jump into a VR experience, it's kind of like this meta lobby area where it's just like, it's so hard to kind of just meet up with their friends in VR. So like, there's a good chance that this is going to make that easier.

[00:43:46.831] RowdyGuy: And that's probably their intention. The intention is indeed to do something that would not brand their company as this evil corporation that is going to take over the world. I mean, that might happen. I'm not saying that that is not something that could roll into it, but the intention is there to do something that is positive. That is the reason why this is happening.

[00:44:08.417] Kent Bye: Well, we don't, I'm just going to put a caveat on there because Facebook's a big entity and there's business intentions and there's user intentions. Correct. And we don't actually know the full intentions. There's a great clip of a lawyer who was, during testimony, was a grilling, I think her last name was Porter, and she's asking Mark Zuckerberg a question. She's like, do you care about privacy? And Mark Zuckerberg's like, yes, of course we do. And she's like, why are you arguing in case that because people signed a terms of service and privacy policy, they've waived their rights to privacy and they have no ability to be able to sue because of this privacy breach? If you really cared about privacy, then your actions in federal court would be telling a different story. So your actions of what you're saying you're doing is different than your behaviors of how you're acting in federal court. So can you resolve for me why what you're saying to me, what you believe in and what you're doing in federal court, why there's a disconnect? And I think that's always the difficulty with a big company like this is that they'll have the story for while they're doing it, but then there's sort of deeper layers that we can't see that are obfuscated that maybe are driving different behaviors. And I think that's in the conversation I had with Darshan. What I got was that there are certain aspects of the VR ecosystem that Facebook wants to completely own and control and dominate. and that any independent developer that is encroaching on those areas will find all sorts of ways to just reject them from the app store, to not give them support, or to just actively potentially even surveil what they're doing and clone their features and this really anti-competitive type of behaviors that Darshan is sort of alleging that he's experiencing with big screen. And so

[00:45:43.086] RowdyGuy: Let me ask you then, just imagine we have 2 million viewers right now, all virtual reality users, and they all want to know what is the next step that we should do? What would you recommend people to do? How do we go forward from this?

[00:45:58.453] Kent Bye: Well, so Lawrence Lessig has the pale dot theory saying that there's four major areas where you can sort of bring about different change. One is the law and the legal aspect. So there's certainly different legal aspects that need to be changed in terms of the third party doctrine. And, you know, that may result in a court case that's going to the Supreme Court. And then, you know, having a different interpretation that would allow certain amounts of information to remain private. So like in the Carpenter case, there was like cell phone tracking data. So there needs to be like a new interpretation of third party doctrine. So that's in the legal side. But there's also in the legal side, there's no universal right to privacy in the United States. It's all sort of like it's all just like up to the companies to innovate and push forward. And it's up to like other states like the European Union to be able to fight back. But to have like transparency of what's recorded. The other sort of legal thing I'd say is that there's a legal term of personally identifiable information, PII, and there's going to be some aspects of your biometric data that can be extrapolated to be able to create a fingerprint for who you are. So there's de-identified data that is going to be recorded on you that Facebook doesn't say, well, there's no PII here, but actually when you take it in aggregate is going to be actually a pretty significant biometric fingerprint that is going to be PII information. So that's That's on the legal side. There's the market side, which is that if you don't want to support Facebook and their entities, use something else. But that's a challenge if you want to do standalone VR, because there's actually no economic viable competitors out there. And so we need a competitor to be able to kind of help weigh some of the different vectors so that there can be market dynamics. The other aspect is culture. So there's information, us just talking about it as a way for people to learn about it and to know like media aspects. Just being in the conversation about it and discussing it. So where do you get the law, the economics, the culture, and then there's the technological architecture and the code. So to build sort of technological alternatives. The problem that I have is that there's so many different things like differential privacy, homeomorphic encryption. There's all sorts of things that Facebook could be doing if they really wanted to build a privacy first architecture. But they're not. They're not implementing all these things because they want to tie all that information to your identity. So there's certain aspects of the technological decisions in the architecture layer, whether it's differential privacy or homeomorphic encryption, all these different things, like the way that Darshan's doing with like peer-to-peer encrypted, like where there's no way that anybody could listen into what you're saying. Facebook has faced pushback from legislators because WhatsApp has these different aspects of encryption. And like, are you enabling bad behavior with terrorism and money laundering or child pornography? Like when you offer that level of privacy, you also have safety and security tradeoffs. And so there's no kind of perfect solution. but they're on one extreme where there's absolutely no privacy. And I would just like to see a little bit more of a balance of some of those, or to, you know, like Darshan, he has opportunities for you to have peer-to-peer encrypted private types of interactions. And so, but those are the four areas, you know, the culture, talking about it, you know, the technological architecture and the code, the law, as well as the economics.

[00:49:00.915] Mike Cussell: Yeah, I totally agree that I think, you know, it's important to talk about it. And one thing I want to point out is that, you know, a lot of the stuff and concerns that you're saying now has been a concern prior to this announcement this week, right? This has been an ongoing concern from your point of view. And it's not just because of Facebook account is required for this login that all of a sudden we're talking about this. You know, this has been a concern of yours spanning years historically, right?

[00:49:27.942] Kent Bye: Yeah, the issue for me is the biometric data and what that data can tell you about it and what happens to it, what's being recorded and where does it end up. And at this point, we have literally like no answers to that. And that's been the frustrating thing for that. I've been asking these questions for years and there's been no answers for whatever reason. They just, you know, haven't defined that or put a limit to themselves in any way. And that to me is the most concerning thing is that there is all this new potential for what biometric data could do and who owns it and what you do with it. Facebook has taken this policy of saying we need to record all this information to know about your room, to be able to like make better technologies. So there is a tradeoff between they need that information to be able to make their technologies better. But at the same time, do they need to record it forever? Do they need to tie it to your identity? Do they need to record your emotional profile? Do they need to record what you're saying? There's all these questions as to what is and is not being reported, and there's no transparency and no accountability for you in any moment to know what context you're in, to know what is and is not being reported. People in Europe have more protections with that. We do. But in GDPR, those protections of GDPR are not universally applied globally. Even a technological architecture is the consequence if there's violations, there's no recourse for anywhere other than in Europe. So there's like ways in which things have been built in from an architectural level, but there's no sort of user ways that you can have any transparency or accountability on any of it.

[00:50:52.722] Mike Cussell: And I think one of the bigger questions to ask is, does this change anything from your point of view going forward in terms of, like, this week you said you've enjoyed playing Tetris Effect on your Quest. Obviously, you've known all this information in the back of your mind going forward, but you still continue to enjoy VR. Is it something that you try to put at the back of your mind, or is it something that you're like, from here on out, I'm going to boycott it and I'm not going to use it from here on out? Or is it something you're just like, well, although I'm happy to argue about it and raise awareness about it, I'm still going to continue enjoying it going forward?

[00:51:23.418] Kent Bye: Well, I, I love the technology. I'm very passionate about it. I've been talking to hundreds and hundreds of people over the last six years about the ultimate potential of what this can enable. And I still believe that this is like the most transformative technology that's out there. But I also think there's a lot of risks and harms that haven't necessarily been fully talked about. And that's a lot of the work that I'm looking at, or the ethical and moral dilemmas that this technology brings up. And my frustration has been up to this point that Facebook has not been showing up to the table to even engage in that dialogue in a public fashion. Now, there was news that came out, a white paper, that earlier this year that they're going to start to do these open sessions with academics to start to talk about these issues, but they've just been kind of absent from the conversation to be able to even kind of discuss some of the potential harms and ethical and moral implications that are possible for this technology. So for me, my temperament is that I'm an idealist. I'm an optimist. I just like believe that this is going to turn out the most exalted potential. And I think I believe in that. And when I talk to someone like Anton Hand, he's like the opposite on the temperament. He's like very cynical and pessimistic and just like, you know, this is all going to burn to hell, basically. Like, what do you expect? These are the corporations. It's like the most worst case scenario. So to come together, I think the answer is somewhere in between. That it's not as good as I want, and it's not as bad as Anton thinks, but it's somewhere in the middle.

[00:52:45.034] Mike Cussell: And I think, you know, I've got some good quotes actually from your discussion with Anton and Darshan, and the quote from Anton which stood out for me was, and he was talking about the quest in this regard, and he says, I don't care how nice the park is if it's surrounded by landmines. And I thought that was a really interesting quote. Like, you know, obviously on the Steam VR platform, he's shooting himself in the foot in terms of the potential audience he could reach by not bringing the game to the Quest, whether it's even technically possible, I have no idea. But I get his point, you know, regardless of how nice that extra revenue might be, he doesn't want to be associated with Facebook. And, you know, I can understand.

[00:53:21.623] RowdyGuy: It's admirable, like, to an extent for a developer to take such a standpoint. Yeah. Yeah, but also not only like understand a standpoint, you know, the guy needs to eat too, you know, he's cutting out a lot of his costs in order to bring that message. I think that it's admirable regarding of whatever you like the game or whatever you like Facebook, if someone takes a position like that, it's respectable.

[00:53:45.832] Mike Cussell: The other interesting point, which was Darshan made, he was talking about Facebook, you know, and their ideal of creating a metaverse. And he said that, I think anybody that's guided to own the metaverse will fail if that's their motivation, is doomed for failure. Which again, is an interesting point, you know, but I think, you know, some things that we should highlight are that, you know. Oh, I just want to add one thing on that.

[00:54:08.825] Kent Bye: So Darshan is driven by passion. And I think there's certain aspects what Facebook is doing. He's extrapolating based upon his own experience that Facebook wants to own and control different aspects of the ecosystem. So there's this tension between cultivating a developer ecosystem and owning and controlling that ecosystem. And sometimes Facebook is a technology provider where they're just providing a platform for people to build on. And sometimes Facebook is a service and application provider that are building services that are in direct competition with certain people within developer community. And the thing that's changed this past week, not only just this announcement, but people have been frustrated so much that for the first time, they're starting to come forward and speak. And that's new. They're starting to break that silence and say, these are the frustrations that I've had for many years, and they've come to a certain impasse. I've gone to all six Oculus Connects, I've done 1,500 interviews, hundreds of conversations with developers, and time and time again, I hear frustrations from people within the community. Sometimes even with Nathie last year, you know, like there's certain aspects of people, everybody has their laundry list of frustrations with Facebook, but they also have to decide what they're going to publicly talk about and what they're going to privately share with their friends. And like oftentimes there's a huge disconnect for what people feel comfortable talking about publicly about their frustrations and their grievances with Facebook. But there was something about this announcement this past week where people feel like now it's safe for them to start to air some of the dirty laundry or the frustrations or some of the You know, Greg Fodor from Altspace talked about a story where Altspace was in dire straits and was like needing a lot of help. And if Facebook was trying to really cultivate the developer ecosystem, they would have maybe thought about finding some ways to help out. But they kind of like led them on to think they were going to help. And then the last moment kind of backed out and then Altspace basically folded and was destroyed. And there's like this question, like, well, if Facebook wants themselves to own social, then you can imagine, OK, well, there's this this kind of conflict between the cultivation and competition aspects. And I think that's where if you kind of look at specific developers within the ecosystem and listen to what they're saying, then you see where those conflicts arise and that there's some ways in which that Facebook is potentially artificially limiting the type of innovation that can happen in the VR medium, because those are plans that Facebook has for themselves that they want to own and control. And so they're potentially throwing out all these different blocks from other developers that are trying to do that.

[00:56:31.393] Nathaniël de Jong: But that's the core of like the VR community itself, where we like to talk about problems and then solve them together. And that should be normal, not only on the side where developers talk to each other, but also the hardware manufacturer who makes the hardware that you work with, but also the platform itself that they make.

[00:56:47.921] Mike Cussell: But like you say, there is no open discussion from Facebook regarding this policy change.

[00:56:52.104] Nathaniël de Jong: No, but also if you looked at this week on Twitter, like Darshan and also Anton are unique examples, but everyone spoke out in the end. It was a small group in the end.

[00:57:02.625] Mike Cussell: Yeah, yeah. But I think, you know, also we should highlight some of the good things that the Oculus and Facebook have done over the years. You know, like without them, we wouldn't be in a situation right now where we have a Quest, you know, a revolutionary device that no one can match, no one can compete with right now. And whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, you know, they're leading the way in terms of this standalone platform and the amount of sheer investment in terms of research and development. and trying to kickstart an ecosystem as well with funding games is something that we rarely see amongst the other VR manufacturers other than Sony. I think they back a lot of VR games as well, but we don't see it from HDC, we don't see it from HP, we don't see it from other hardware manufacturers. So I think ultimately, whether you like or you hate Facebook, you know potential negative use cases in the future, but also how this could potentially send VR into a way more wider adoption into a market that we've never even seen before in VR. Because right now, you know, we're enthusiasts and gamers. That's pretty much the VR market. early adopters, enthusiasts and gamers. And I remember seeing a YouTube video, I can't remember what it's called now, but it's almost like you need to trample on those enthusiasts to get to the market that you actually want. And I think to a certain degree, I can see that that's what Facebook are doing. They're not listening to what we want as an enthusiast and a gamer in an early adopter community. They're reaching for the far greater fruit, which is in the distance. And like you said, by reducing the friction and making this one account that was going to span across a whole a series of social apps and experiences in VR, they could be reaching an audience that is far, far greater than we've ever seen before that, quite frankly, may not even care about these implications or care that the fact that a Facebook account is required.

[00:58:59.617] Brad Peyton: If you want to make a cake, sometimes you got to break some legs.

[00:59:04.865] Kent Bye: Well, I think there's, I agree totally with what you're saying, Mike, in terms of like, the quest is one of the most amazing engineering feats that I've seen in my life. And it's changed my own personal behaviors about how I use VR. And I love it. What I'm afraid of is like this type of utilitarian argument, which is that it's worth mortgaging our privacy forever to be able to, in the short term, artificially make something grow that maybe it'll already have its organic growth over time. You're kind of forcing something to grow quickly, but at the same time, forcing users to not have any agency when it comes to how it's being supported through undermining different aspects of our privacy. And I think that's the trade-off here, is how much of our privacy do we want to mortgage to be able to have VR do more good out in the world? And I think it's the things that are concerning to me are to see the type of potential alleged anti-competitive behavior, like Darshan is saying, is that there's certain aspects of that market that Facebook wants to completely own and control. And so there's not like market dynamics where there's a number of options. It's it's Facebook's way or nothing at all. And there's going to be certain aspects of the VR medium that I would love to see, like more of the open platforms develop eventually. But, you know, Neil Trevitt, he says for every successful open standard, there's a proprietary competitor. So there's a dialectic between the closed and the open. And then this is like pushing forward in the closed and that eventually once we prove out what is possible, then that creates a motivation for the open alternative.

[01:00:33.248] Mike Cussell: And this kind of leads me on to a good question then is like, if there was competition, you know, like for the quest, who do you think that would come from then at this point in time? Would you have a company in mind that you think, okay, I trust them potentially with, you know, the similar data set that Facebook are collecting, I would trust them rather than trust Facebook with the same product, if you know what I mean? Like, like, say for example, if Google made a quest competitor and they were side by side, one was branded Facebook, one was branded Google. Would you be like, okay, I'm happy to go with the Google one, but not so much the Facebook one or vice versa? Well, this is the question I'm asking.

[01:01:08.444] Kent Bye: Yeah. No, Google has, you know, just as worse surveillance capitalism, you know. Like the thing with Google is that they have Android and they really try to develop open ecosystems through like the open web and stuff. And so but I think, you know, Valve is somebody who doesn't seem to be interested in trying to create a bunch of big surveillance machine. And so I would trust them. But I don't want to just sort of like based upon the name brand of the company, just put blind trust in anybody. I want to be able to have accountable ways to be able to have verifiable trust. And that's the issue. There's no data sovereignty. Like I don't own my data. And that's the issue. There's almost like by putting this thing onto my headset, they're like seizing the control of my data, and I don't have any control over what even happens to that data and how it's used.

[01:01:50.742] Mike Cussell: That's also the case, not just in VR, but also across mobile devices, smart TVs, smart homes, pretty much everything, right?

[01:01:58.673] RowdyGuy: I think what Ken is trying to say is that we should be careful as enthusiasts not to go into the unjustified means. We do whatever it takes in order to get that ultimate virtual reality experience. I think maybe sometimes it's important to think about what are the consequences of taking this approach just in general.

[01:02:19.238] Brad Peyton: But even Anton says that, right? Like, I mean, you were talking to him and I thought this was one of the most interesting pieces of that cast was that Anton, although he is kind of happy to be nailed to his own cross to some extent, he's not blind to the fact that critical mass is not going to be gathered most likely by people who are boycotting Facebook's devices now off of this. And it was funny because when I listened to that, I thought back to myself and I thought, If they had launched a product, you know, even a year or two ago that did what the Oculus Quest did, but it was called the Facebook Quest, I probably wouldn't have bought it. And it's funny because it's exactly what you said there is that it's not just the name. Facebook is just one entity and we've seen their track record and they're not unique in kind of a landmine filled track record in history. And the problem I think here is at the moment, where law stands at the minute with data control like you said there's too much span for abuse without the required restrictions in place to help control that and i'm glad that here in europe we're a little bit ahead but unfortunately the uk decided to sail off so a little bit of that protection goes away with that so

[01:03:29.217] Mike Cussell: But that's the future ahead of us.

[01:03:30.319] Brad Peyton: Those clamps have to come in, control around our personal information, how it's leveraged needs to come in, and also the avoidance of use by you know, governments, other large companies who might pay for that information. We've already seen examples of it being very badly abused and changing the course of history. And that's my worst consideration here is when we all get in bed with Facebook, like is, are we changing the course of history as a result of that? But I don't actually see us changing this train on its tracks because I think enough people are going to be going to the honey, going to the device that is the best at the moment in the market.

[01:04:07.720] Mike Cussell: And I think that's a good way to round up the conversation, really, because we've been talking about it for over an hour now. And I think we could go on for many, many hours, but I don't think that people would stick around. So maybe we should round it up by this. Does this fundamentally, and I'm sure it will change people's opinion on maybe getting the next Oculus device, but does it change anyone's opinions on this show? And let us know in the chat as well, if this changes your opinion on getting the next hardware, because of this change in policy and because of this Facebook account requirement and I think I'll start because and I mentioned this on the video and maybe it was an unpopular opinion because you know I'm more a bit blasé about these things and I'm glad to have Ken on the show to talk about it from an opposite point of view because I linked my Oculus account and my Facebook account you know, a year or so ago. So I've already sort of made that choice in my mind going forward. And I don't think this changes anything. You know, it's not going to stop me from enjoying whatever headset comes out next. And of course, I think now, based on what's happened, I'll keep a more open mind and try and track what's going on to try and be more educated in terms of these privacy concerns. But certainly it won't change the way, you know, my gamer brain thinks in terms of I just want to try the next big best thing. and play the next big best game. But I'm intrigued to see what you guys think and certainly what the chat think as well.

[01:05:29.921] Brad Peyton: Who wants to go next?

[01:05:32.204] RowdyGuy: I'll go on that. I think I'm a little bit on the opposite end of that. I think that the technology as it is now already is very impressive. Of course, I want technology to improve, but I don't want to, like I said before, the end doesn't justify the means. I don't see myself being completely comfortable with the kind of scenario, the pessimistic scenario that CanTest put forward. for me to be okay, like I'll do all of that in order just to get the next new best thing. I want technology to go forward, but I prefer it to go forward at a slower pace. If that means that my data is secure or my privacy is more secured, I do think that is very important. And that's exactly also why I asked Kent the question of like, you know, why should people care about this kind of thing? Because it's not because you don't do something wrong or it's not because You haven't done something that you weren't supposed to do or whatever. It's just the amount of data that is being collected on you. Just imagine that insurance companies get a hold of that kind of data.

[01:06:33.658] Kent Bye: Or if it's leaked out on the dark web. Imagine 10 years of your data on the web that people have all this information about you.

[01:06:40.987] Brad Peyton: That was an excellent point.

[01:06:42.328] RowdyGuy: Just everything, just everything that is on there from the amount of like exercise you do to the places that you visit to your workplace, how many hours you spend there, how many, like there's so much data that can be collected and can be like, even worse, can be brought together in order to deduct different kinds of data. And I think that is the, like they say, like the data is the new oil. And there's a very good reason for saying that, because it's often not about the quality of data that you have, but it's about the amount of data that you have, because you can detract more quality from a very big data set. But what Facebook has is they have an enormous data set that is also of a very high quality. So it's the two best things that are put together. And they can pretty much do anything that they want with that kind of data. I don't know if I feel 100% comfortable with that. Now, it is Facebook, and I know that Facebook is under the scrutiny's eye of people like, for example, Kent. So, I do feel a little bit more protected by that. I would feel far more worried if, for example, was a company in some kind of country where privacy laws are completely non-existent. I would be far more uncomfortable with that. But I know that the spotlight is constantly shining on Facebook. And I am very happy that people like Kent and many others are constantly busy on trying to work out the details in those privacy policies.

[01:07:59.460] Kent Bye: And I just want to jump in there and say that I personally feel like a David versus Goliath. I mean, it's not even that. It's like going against some of the biggest mega tech corp. I mean, I'm completely outmatched on all levels. And then it's weeks like this where no matter what I do or try to engage or whatever, it's just like they're just going to do what they're going to do. So even though I'm I'm operating at a cultural level, but I don't know if it's actually changing any business practices within Facebook.

[01:08:25.976] RowdyGuy: And so you're creating awareness. The reason why it's awareness and the reason why we're having this discussion is because people like you bring this to light.

[01:08:33.520] Kent Bye: But I think it's important. But I think the thing that Anton said, which was the most dark thing is that Facebook is just going to do what they're going to do. And they don't care about the enthusiast community. They're going to do this for the larger sake of reaching a consumer market. And so that's sort of like the other concern is that not the people that like have the luxury to choose to not be on Facebook. Some people can't because that's how they get Internet access. And, you know, there's like all these other aspects. But I just want to say for me personally, I am likely going to get access to the new hardware and I'll probably end up linking. Well, I won't have an option, but like as a tech journalist, you know, someone like Jaron Lanier has opted to just kind of opt out and not be engaged in social media. And that's not my Like as an experiential journalist, I don't think I can be credible as an experiential journalist if I opt out. And so there's a part of me that needs to opt into this, but I'm resistant. I don't like the fact that whatever I may be doing could be leaked out. It could be recorded. Like having social interactions in the quest means that anything I say or do could be recorded by Facebook. You know, it's just kind of creepy. having this sense of like this big brother watching me and tracking me and not having any way to have any accountability or to be able to look at it and to see and to no matter what they say to me say oh we're not doing that but it's always with the caveat yet we're not doing that yet we're not serving you ads yet we're not tracking this yet we're not tracking this at a high enough frequency yet but at any moment tomorrow that could change and they don't have to tell me So how as a journalist can I have any sort of accountability unless they have some sort of co-transparency where they post their code up and you have algorithmic transparency and you're able to see what the database and what they're actually recording, what they're doing. And unless they have that level of transparency, then we're not going to know. But at the same time, I really believe what Neil Trevitt says is that it's impossible for the open alternative to happen until you have the potential of what is possible. And we need that to show what's possible to create the culture and the market and the dynamics around that in order for us to have a viable alternative. And so that's where I put my hope is that like that the quest will be successful enough from a market perspective that other competitors will come in and provide market alternatives that maybe have different approaches and that Facebook's just going to do what they're doing and they're going to like have this strategy and like they have this whole thing on surveillance capitalism and that's how they're funding it. And it wouldn't exist without it. And that's the paradox. Is that like the thing that exists and what's so amazing that I use personally wouldn't even exist without all the billions of dollars investment that they've done. The question is how they recoup that investment and how can they be in dialogue and how can they be transparent? How could they just not thrust things upon us, but actually be in conversation to have transparency and accountability? What does that actually look like? These are all questions that nobody really knows the answer to. And I don't, I'm not putting any trust in the governments of anywhere to be able to like really push that back And I think it will end up likely having to come from the consumers in the market and people that are listening to this podcast to sort of like figure out what do they need to know, what would they need to be able to see for them to feel completely safe and secure and not feel like somebody is spying on them and everything they do within the virtual environment.

[01:11:31.769] Brad Peyton: And like from my corner, Having been here involved with the Oculus Facebook mutation since 2013, I made my decision with the DK2 back when I was pre-ordering the DK2. I sat there and I thought about two things. You guys know I care about health and medical and all of that. And I thought this is a nascent technology. I'm sticking my eyes in this device. Am I going to go blind in 10 years and really think that really wasn't worth it for all the games that I played or whatever? The second thing I thought of was it's only been, I think it was two months or maybe six weeks or something like that since the announcement and Facebook had acquired Oculus. And I asked my wife, I said, like, surely that's short enough a time that they can't affect the device. Like, this is going to be an Oculus device that I'm going to get in a couple of months. It was five months or whatever. But at that stage, I made that decision. Like, so I feel with this announcement, while some people have been woken up to the fact, that, oh, my Oculus device is actually connected to Facebook. And a lot of people, I think consumers in particular, won't have even considered the two connected in any way, despite it being written on the box or whatever. It's subtext. They never it was never like echoed in their face enough. And I think that's what's driving a lot of the excitement.

[01:12:50.413] RowdyGuy: There's a difference between being OK with that decision and not caring about your data being sold out. Of course, you care about

[01:12:58.398] Brad Peyton: Yeah, but like, Rowdy, where I sit on that is like, my phone's been listening, you know, our phones have been listening to us for like, what, 30 years, 20 years, at least.

[01:13:09.012] RowdyGuy: More reason to care about it.

[01:13:11.606] Kent Bye: I just want to say that's a little bit of a whataboutism. Privacy has already gone way too far, and I don't think that's a valid argument to say, well, just because it's already terrible, we should just continue down this path.

[01:13:20.632] Brad Peyton: I'm not accepting that. Again, my answer here is, if you're trying to control a corporation the size of a country, You need to control that through regulation and regulatory bodies, not through Joe Schmo, VR consumer, deciding he's not going to buy Quest, he's going to go buy a Vive Cosmos instead. It just doesn't make sense. You're not playing, like you said, it's David versus Goliath in that respect. And if you want to win in that argument, not just against a single entity, but every entity that's operating, you need some form of backing government and regulatory side. So for me, it's not going to alter my behavior at this news. I'm still excited for the new quest, but one of the things I just have to put out there is, you know, I do get that kind of funny feeling and I've had it before with Facebook where it's like that oily feeling on the skin. It's like, you know, am I getting in bed with some people who have influenced some bad historic decisions? And if that's the case, you know, keep an eye on them, keep your eyes open, keep listening, that's what I do, and have an open dialogue with them as much as you can and as much as they allow. It's the same thing that developers have been saying to Kent, is, is that feedback actually being heard? Is it being utilized? Is it changing the platform? And I like to tend to think that Facebook are listening to us, even though they don't communicate back, it's their corporate choice and style design choice and strategic choice as they're trying to climb the ladder and be the new Apple for VR to not communicate back to us. So that's where I stand on it. I'm curious where Nathie sits.

[01:14:48.724] Nathaniël de Jong: Yeah, so first of all, I'm just like you, like I got an Oculus Rift DK1. I remember joking about this whole Facebook thing with my DK2 where it was like, imagine if you need to use your Facebook account, you need to log in and there is no other way anymore. And then the CB1 came and it was still not time for that. And then after a while, you're like, will it ever happen? Maybe it's not going to happen. So this week, even that I have been so invested into Oculus for so long, I was still surprised by it too, just because the products never reflect that Facebook vibe, you know. Oculus Connect did feel more like a Facebook event, especially when you have Mark Zuckerberg coming up, you're like, okay, wait, so it's not Palmer Luckey anymore. It's not Oculus anymore. It's Facebook now. But just to get to the point, I will continue to use Oculus products. On a personal level, I have been using a Facebook account since I can remember. And also because the thing is, if I would decide to not do it, it's kind of like what Ken says with his background in journalism. I'm running a VR channel. So by saying no to all of this, I can't supply my content to people anymore. I can't make videos about the next Quest or about the next Oculus hardware. And my goal is to make people excited for VR. But I do have to say, with all the discussion we saw this week, and also what the developers have said, There is like my, my excitement for VR has died a little bit with the Oculus hardware for sure. And hearing these stories from developers make me extremely sad. And I, I've heard those stories before and you know, and that sucks because the hardware is absolutely beautiful. It's amazing. I have never tried something so awesome as the Quest. You know, I've never been so freaking excited about standalone. But the fact that there is no open discussion and there is no what the VR community loves so much. And that is, you know, talking about problems, thinking about solutions, but not being able to share that with the company who makes the hardware that they, because you can say whatever you want, but the baseline, our developers are the community. Those are the people who made the Quest what it is right now. And I don't know if the Quest 2 is going to be the same way, because the reputation on the Quest 2 is a little bit different now. When people are going to ask me, should I buy an Oculus Quest 2 or should I buy whatever they come up with, I do have to now tell them, listen, you know, first it wasn't so relevant to, you could just have an account, you could just play whatever. But now it's like, listen, let's first talk about Facebook. And I wish that wasn't the case, that it would just be the Oculus Quest, great headset, don't. So that's kind of my, so I'm in the middle, you know, there is a part where I also think this is super scary. It's just like, it's almost like the Quest is like a personal thing to me where I just feel sad about the hardware because the hardware doesn't deserve this whole stupid discussion, but we have to have it because it's fucking irrelevant right now. And we're living in a world where you pay with data, you know, Facebook horizon. I'm super, super pumped for that. But I know when I go in there that I pay with my data. Okay. I know it. And as long as we can keep the discussion going, it's very good. So I'm happy to see that, you know, Kent is on the show that you can have a fine discussion about it. And yeah, we'll see. I don't know. I'm like getting a little emotional because I love VR so much, but I don't like this whole data thing, man. I hate it. But yeah.

[01:18:18.224] Mike Cussell: And I think, you know, it's fair to say that we all feel the same way. And I think, you know, that is the most important thing to come out of this is to have these kind of discussions and certainly to get opinions from people like Kent, you know, that may differ from your own individual feelings on the matter. And I think it does come down to how you personally feel about this. going forward, whether you're going to invest in a new Oculus headset or maybe go with, you know, another headset or another platform. And I think, you know, regardless of that is a personal choice. And just think about it and maybe review terms and conditions and privacy policies of different companies and make that informed decision. But certainly going forward, you know, have that caveat of can I recommend this headset? Well, you've got to consider having a Facebook account, I think is an important thing to point out.

[01:18:58.606] RowdyGuy: It's not the account that is the problem. You need to have an account for Steam as well in order to use it. But it's like you understand.

[01:19:04.490] Kent Bye: It's more of are you being willing to sort of submit yourself to an unknown and untransparent, unaccountable way of being tracked and recorded in all of your biometric data. It's sort of like that caveat that, you know, I recorded an interview nine days after the quest came out at Augmented World Expo with Chris Miranda of InterVR. And he was so pumped and excited about the quest. And I, I wanted to have that same level of just like unbridled enthusiasm about this engineering feat that was going to change the world. But then it was like, ah, but there's just like this caveat that it's like, I can't just sort of like unconditionally recommend this because we don't know. And that's the thing.

[01:19:38.131] Mike Cussell: It's like, we don't know what it is.

[01:19:39.753] Kent Bye: And like, if we would have some way to kind of check it, but it's like, there's no checks and balances, there's no accountability and like looking at the behavior. And also just listening to the experiences that specific independent VR developers and companies have had with Facebook also gives me pause because there's something aspects of like Facebook wanting to own and control specific aspects of the VR ecosystem that is everybody that is contributing into unconditionally promoting VR, helping to create the context in which that we create this kind of IOI uncontrolled, like, you know, mega core panopticon who's like controlling everything. And it's like, yeah. So there's always that sort of caveat.

[01:20:17.226] Mike Cussell: And I get that. And I think, you know, it's going to be an interesting pass from here on out to monitor, like whether this does affect drastically sales wise of this new headset, regardless of how good it is or how cheap it might be. Like, will this make a dent in the industry? And I think that's going to be the most interesting thing to track over the next coming months and years.

[01:20:36.834] Nathaniël de Jong: One thing is for sure, the vibe has changed and the feeling about the future of VR has also changed. For sure. This week for me, it felt like something like really like something big changed and for me it was always oculus from facebook but now it's like facebook from yeah yeah i think it's gone yeah you're right it's gone from what i mean so maybe it will still be great for vr but i like quest new quest too i'm like yeah i don't know i felt different about it two weeks ago you know what i mean because it's now official it's gonna happen we now have to deal with it there's no other way you can get into a new oculus headset by using an account and before that i know it was also looming but now it's a fact and we can't do anything about it anymore and i think that's where we should probably draw a line

[01:21:22.907] Mike Cussell: You know, we've talked about it for a long time and hopefully if you've listened to the show and we've laid out the points in a fair way to make an informed decision, I think, like I said, I reiterate it, it's a decision that you have to make personally.

[01:21:33.824] RowdyGuy: And also, if you're watching this video on Facebook, we still appreciate you.

[01:21:39.983] Nathaniël de Jong: I think what it comes down to is I still feel the love of the VR scene and the community and the passion that we all have for this whole thing. Even this discussion shows that, you know, that we all love VR, we really want it to succeed.

[01:21:52.372] Mike Cussell: We wouldn't be here if we didn't care, put it that way. No. So thank you again, Kent, for your insights into this. And now let's round up the show with some releases.

[01:22:02.347] Kent Bye: So that was an excerpt from the episode 153 of the F-Reality podcast featuring Rowdy Guy, Zimtalk5, Nathie, and Mike from VR Oasis, as well as myself as their special guest. So I have a number of different takeaways from this conversation is that, first of all, First, I'm just happy that they were able to articulate a lot of things that maybe I haven't covered on my podcast yet in terms of this specific issue. Facebook, as an entity, has been able to get VR to where it is right now just because they've invested billions of dollars, they've invested in games, they've been able to essentially make what the VR industry is right now by initially buying Oculus for $2-3 billion back in 2014. They've done a lot to be able to rejuvenate the VR industry. My underlying concern is that How do we have some say in how this plays out and where this goes in the future? For me, there's just a lot of red flags, a lot of warning signals that are leading down this path that there's not a lot of transparency and accountability. One of the things that Zimtalk5 had said was that he's putting a lot of his faith in the regulators. As consumers, it's like this David vs. Goliath. What do we say about how we're going to enforce different ethical behavior? That's really up to the regulators and the governments to be able to do that around the world. I will say that the GDPR privacy policies that the EU has passed has brought about significant architectural changes for how companies are architecting for privacy around the world. That's been amazing that the EU and the GDPR has been able to do that. But those aren't universally applied everywhere around the world. For me, I'm really speaking from as an American, there's not the same level of protections that are provided in something like GDPR. As far as what the regulatory oversight of the United States has been, it's been completely absent. Anything that there has been any oversight has been toothless. There's FTC consent decrees that get passed down, and there have been some violations that Facebook has had to pay up to a $5 billion fine. But again, if you look at that in terms of percentage of their overall revenue, it's a small fraction. It's actually still more profitable for them to violate some of these different privacy regulations and still continue business as usual. whether or not the EU's fine structure actually changes different behavior, I can already see that there are some indications that that's happening. I think that Zymtok actually made a really good point, saying that perhaps part of this consolidation is to be able to come into compliance to things like GDPR, where they're not having to actually do that twice, but they're able to do that all consolidated underneath Facebook. I think there's probably a good argument that that's likely happening. My complaint is that I just wish that Facebook would come forth and say that that was part of the reason. But I think part of the underlying issue here is to not be in conversation, not be in dialogue. For me, as an individual, it's impossible for any one individual to believe all truths and to reject all falsehoods. So you really need to rely upon independent verification, peer review, journalists to have editorial oversight. As an independent journalist without editorial oversight, you know, you can only take what I say with a certain amount of merit. Like, don't just take my authority. Go listen to other people and do your own research. As I talk through this podcast, there's a number of different layers in terms of trying to extrapolate what someone's intention is. It's really quite difficult. But at the baseline, there's what you say your intentions are, then there's your actions that you can trace and verify in some capacity, and there's all the things that happen behind the scenes that may be mismatched between what you say your intentions are. Katie Porter had this great interaction with Mark Zuckerberg, who is not a lawyer, but she's a lawyer, and she's asking, why are you making this legal argument in federal court, saying that this data breach in the the breach of privacy, that there's no way for consumers to sue Facebook. Because users who sign on to Facebook's policy, that says that they're waiving any ability to be able to bring about that type of litigation. These adhesion contracts mean that someone who signs a policy means that there's no way to have any sort of accountability. If Facebook really, truly cared about privacy, then would they put that type of liability waiver within their whole privacy policy. That was what Katie Porter was saying. You are saying that you really care about privacy, but your actions and your argument in federal court is completely opposite to what you're saying right here and right now. I think that's the issue with any company, with anybody. There can be a mismatch between what they're saying and what they're actually doing. Being able to actually trace that behavior and to be able to extrapolate what some of those intentions might be. There was a moment when Mike said, most people don't seem to have a problem with that App Store ecosystem model. He's right. I think most people don't. I think the issue here with Facebook is that they're actually double-dipping. They're not only doing that App Store model, but they're also doing the model, potentially, of surveillance capitalism, which is that you are now, all of a sudden, having all of your data paying for this again. Not only are you paying outright with your own money, but you're also being surveilled. They're actually combining those two things. It's not like you're getting all this hardware for free. It's subsidized, to a large extent, from all of this. We have to acknowledge that paradox of that. We all have to, in some way, reckon that this wouldn't exist without that. But moving forward, what kind of business models do we want to do to be able to ensure that we're not having unnecessarily harm being caused in the world? Zymtok was saying there's certain aspects of trying to manipulate people's perceptions. It should be illegal. That, I think, is the fundamental problem. It's impossible to be able to draw that line between persuasion and control. A behavioral neuroscientist said that the ethical threshold between persuasion and behavioral control and manipulation, there's no difference at a fundamental level. That's where there starts to be some issues with how do you get oversight between having such a huge network of billions of people. It almost becomes this target for national states to be able to do disinformation campaigns. Facebook has grown to the point where they're too large to be able to actually react to some of these because it's just impossible to be able to react all to the potential harms. In the United States, the challenge is that in order for laws to change, harm has to be exhibited, that people are actually actively getting hurt. There isn't a culture within the United States to preemptively not do something because it might hurt someone in the future. You have to do it and then see what harm is caused and then fix it afterwards. We can already see the potential harm being done at many different levels, but yet the problem that I have with just turning to the governments and regulating, then actually dig into the regulations and see what the policies are and where they're at with Section 230 to be able to give all this liability waiver. There's so many different aspects of how to actually address that that are such a huge open question. It's not just a simple issue. In a lot of ways, the technology companies are decades ahead of where the regulators are. At least the EU has been able to rein it in a little bit with the data sovereignty that they have, with being able to own and delete and control what happens with your data. But yet, those same protections aren't necessarily universally applied everywhere. One of the things that I wanted to also say is that we're moving down this path of having more and more biometric data. Whether or not whatever is announced within the next month or so has the most extreme aspects of brain control interfaces or eye tracking or galvanic skin response or being able to track your emotions or being able to look at your brainwaves and to literally be able to read your mind. There's research from UCSF using ECOG, which is invasive nodes on the neurons of your brain that are able to actually do speech synthesis, meaning that you're just thinking, and they're able to take those thoughts and to translate that into audible sounds. It's literally reading your mind. Eventually, BCI is going to be amazing to be able to do mind-reading types of experiences. But do we really want all of our thoughts, our own spoken thoughts, to be recorded and stored by Facebook? I think that's the issue. The types of privacy policies that are set now are going to be set for the entirety of VR's future. We can't just look at where the technology is in terms of what they've announced, because we know they're already working on brain control interfaces and BCIs. We already know that they're looking at these different galvanic scan responses to be able to detect the different emotional intensity and EMG that was the Electro micro fee that's like looking at your muscles twitching and have a neural interfaces directly into controlling VR that's going to provide all sorts of new accessibility issues, but at the same time you're looking at like embodied cognition and what your thoughts are based upon how your body is reacting. And so all these different things, the EMG, EEG, ECG, your eye tracking, your gait, how you're moving your body, what you're looking at, what you're paying attention to, there's so much information that can be extrapolated from all that data. And the risk is, is that you start to have inferences that are made on you based upon artificial intelligence algorithms. Based upon your behavior and your reaction, there's going to be a gap between what you're actually thinking, what you're actually intending, and the noise that comes in from an AI algorithm that's looking at all that information and extrapolating that into different judgments about you and your character and your personality traits, what you value. Essentially, all this psychographic profile information used to be able to sell advertisements to you. If you look at what's happened in China, they actually literally have a social score, where all of your information, your behavior is being put down into a single number. It's literally the episode of Nosedive and Black Mirror, where your actions are quantified into a star rating. That star rating and that number determines whether or not you have access to education, to medical care, to transportation. You're able to cut off people's access to different aspects of society. and that is actively happening right now in China. Now, if Facebook starts to record all that information and to make those different types of social scores, the way that the third-party doctrine in the Fourth Amendment works in the United States is that technically that is public information. We may think that Facebook is in control of it and it's private and in a secure vault. But the third-party doctrine means that we've given that over to a third party, so it has no reasonable expectation to remain private, meaning that the government can have a giant firehose of that information directly into the National Security Agency or the CIA or the FBI, whatever else that is made available. And if there's a request that comes from a government, they don't even need a warrant. Or if they do have a warrant, then they can certainly get it, but they can get it without even requesting a warrant. It's unreasonable search and seizure of all this data and all this information, and it's just being aggregated and collected. There's this argument that, well, this is already happening, so what's it matter? We're already there. I think that type of whataboutism doesn't necessarily take into account the new type of information they're going to be able to extrapolate once they have access to our raw neurons, what we're looking at, our emotions, our EEGs, our emotional state at a visceral level. at that point right now. You can extrapolate some of that from the gyroscope on a phone, but you can't necessarily get into the heart of who someone is and look into the windows of their soul through their eyes to know what they're looking at, what they're paying attention to. That's where we're headed. All of this information is going to be made available to Facebook, and they're going to want to profile you to be able to sell more ads, but at the same time, What is the relationship between what happens to that information, that data, and who gets a hold of it? Any government can get access to that, as well. And so, we're literally creating this 1984 surveillance state once we start to go down this path. So, I think that's the risk. And the challenging thing is that, where is Facebook and to be able to actually respond to a lot of these things? Now, they've participated in some papers, one by Emile Slater. There's a couple people from Facebook Reality Labs that have been talking about this, and they're going to start to do these different talks with academics. As far as I've heard so far, I don't know if journalists are going to be available, if there's going to be a public discourse. Talking to Anton, there's a certain amount where some of these decisions are already made and it's not like they're seeking input to be able to change some of the behavior. It's more of like, how can we sell this to the public in a more reasonable way? That's my fear. The way that decisions are made is that it's a top-down thing where this is going to be happening and there's no recourse to be able to do any type of check and balance, whether it's from consumers or the government or any So again, I would just like go back to this. Facebook is larger than any government. They're more powerful than any government. And the shareholder structure of their company is such that Mark Zuckerberg owns 58% or so of all the different voting power. And so essentially whatever they say and do is going to be able to move forward. And so that's concerning in terms of like it's creating the depiction of what Ernest Cline created in Ready Player One of IOI. Facebook is IOI. If you compare what their behavior is and what is depicted, it's this type of control that they want to have over the future of the platform. I guess the takeaway is that anybody that's in the VR industry has to negotiate their own relationship with Facebook and what they can say publicly and what they say privately. To what degree are they engaging into Facebook product in the future? Like I said earlier, I wouldn't recommend people just listen to me and take my own authority. You can go and listen to the experts and look at the different concerns. We're at the stage where Facebook does have the market position where they can do what they want and they don't really need to listen to anybody. They don't need to listen to consumers or to governments or to me or anybody, really. They're just going to do what they are going to do. They've been able to make what VR is what it is right now in this current context, and there's no one that's really close. Actually, I should mention that it has been rumored that Apple has been working on both VR and AR headsets. There was a report from Bloomberg talking about the N301 and the N421, the two models that Apple is working on. One is kind of like a Quest-type of competitor, and one is just the AR glasses. Is Apple going to come in and save us from this type of future? Anton says it'll be a luxury pair of VR, and you're going to have to pay a price for that to pay for that privacy. We're creating a world where if you can afford the privacy, then you get it, but if you don't, you don't have the ability to be able to control or preserve it. So there may be, there'll be Apple that's going to come in and actually step in, but you know, they've also been completely absent from engaging the VR community as well. They kind of do what they are going to do. And in terms of their being tight lipped and secret and controlled, then, you know, in a lot of ways, they're a lot worse than what Facebook is, at least on the quest, you can use that as a developer device and anybody can start to develop for it. So that's a little bit more accessible in that way. So, I don't know, you know, it's striking to hear that Rowdy Guy was willing to not engage, you know, Anton's willing to not engage. But, you know, if you're in the industry, then how much can you not engage with this? But at the same time, how can we somehow collectively say, hey, we want to have our voice heard. We want to engage in the future of this medium. We don't want things to just kind of move forward without a larger discussion about some of these important issues and to talk about some of the potential harms and what are the ways that you can start to, you know, think about that and architect for that, but also this inherent conflict between wanting to be a neutral platform provider, but also, at the same time, be an app and service creator that is in competition with some of the people from your community, as well. How do you negotiate that? Is that part of the reason why Facebook has only been focused on gaming, is because there's all these other things that Facebook wants to come in and be in charge of, in terms of cooperation, collaboration, and social experiences? So that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoyed the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a list of supportive podcast, and it's a great time to be able to join in and help support the work that I'm doing here on the Voices of VR. Just $5 a month is a great amount to give and just helps me continue to bring you this type of coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.

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