Facebook Reveals ‘Hidden’ And ‘Inappropriate’ Messages In Oculus VR Devices

A visitor tries out the Oculus Gear VR virtual reality goggles at the Facebook Innovation Hub on February 24, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Facebook-owned company Oculus announced Friday that early models of its virtual reality Oculus Touch virtual reality controllers contain “hidden” and “inappropriate” messages.

Oculus cofounder Nate Mitchell tweeted about the unfortunate incident today, explaining that the phrases “This Space For Rent,” Big Brother is Watching,” “The Masons Were Here,” and “Hi iFixit! We See You!” had been printed on components for “tens of thousands” of devices.

The “easter eggs,” as Mitchell called them, were intended to appear on prototypes only, but he said the messages “accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers.”

Facebook spokesperson Joanna Peace told Business Insider in an email that while the affected devices had not yet been shipped, customers would ultimately receive them.

“To be clear, no devices have been sold with these messages yet, since Quest and Rift S have not yet shipped. That said, as mentioned in Nate’s tweet, the messages will be inside tens of thousands of controller pairs that will ship to consumers when Quest and Rift S ship,” Peace said.

The spokesperson said the messages were printed an “internal flexible component” of the controllers. While it was likely that most users would never see the messages, she said that the company thought it was important to be transparent with consumers and take responsibility for the error.

The matter of privacy has been problematic for Facebook over the years. The Washington Post reported that the tech giant was negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over a multi-billion dollar fine that would finally settle an investigation into the company’s privacy lapses that may have put users’ information at risk.

Just last month, Facebook reported that it had exposed the passwords of hundreds of millions of users, which could be accessed by its staff. CBS News reported that the security flaw was discovered as Facebook performed a security review in January.

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The passwords were reportedly not available to anyone outside of Facebook, and the company’s vice president said that there was no evidence that any employees had assessed them.

Generally passwords are encrypted, but for whatever reason, that process did not happen with the latest passwords that were discovered in January.

Marcus Carey, CEO of Threatcare, an Austin cybersecurity company, told CBS that encryption of passwords is “Security 101,” adding if Facebook “can’t get the basic principles of cybersecurity right, they are surely failing on the tougher challenges.”

As for the “Big Brother” messages, Mitchell said Facebook had fixed their process so something like this won’t happen again.