Facebook 'Accidentally' Inscribed 'Big Brother Is Watching' Inside Some Video-Game Controllers

“While I appreciate Easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed.”

|
14 April 2019, 11:45pm

This article originally appeared on VICE News in the US.

Everyone makes mistakes. Just ask Facebook.

On Friday, the gigantic tech company — already facing mounting pressure from government regulators in the U.S. and Europe — said it “accidentally” inscribed some dystopian phrases, like "This Space For Rent” and “The Masons Were Here," inside tens of thousands of VR video-game controllers set to ship to consumers, though the ship date hasn't been announced yet.

Nate Mitchell, co-founder of the VR firm Oculus and the head of VR product at Facebook, said on Twitter that the company included foreboding phrases on the internal hardware of Oculus Touch prototypes as an Easter egg. But somehow those phrases were included on final production hardware.

“Unfortunately, some ‘Easter egg’ labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers,” Mitchell tweeted.

Mitchell offered a tepid apology for the mistake.

“While I appreciate Easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed. The integrity and functionality of the hardware were not compromised, and we've fixed our process so this won't happen again,” Mitchell tweeted.

Friday’s snafu was sadly not unique for Facebook. It's faced numerous controversies over its handling of user data and privacy in recent years.

Last March, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm hired as a consultant by Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, illicitly obtained Facebook data from tens of millions of users. Facebook discovered the breach but failed to notify users that it had happened.

Separately, Facebook faced another controversy last November over its hiring of a PR firm called the Definers, to smear billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who often advocates for liberal or leftist causes and is treated as a boogeyman by right-wing media pundits and politicians.

Facebook's troubles have continued into 2019, with the company recently admitting it didn't properly encrypt hundreds of millions of user passwords, which were stored as plain text on an internal platform.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said controllers inscribed with “Big Brother Is Watching” had shipped to tens of thousands of people. The controllers with that inscription were limited to developer kits.

Cover: Facebook vice president of VR Hugo Barra shows Oculus Go during F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center on May 1, 2018 in San Jose, California. Facebook's annual developer conference, F8, is being held on May 1, 2018 to May 2, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Yichuan Cao/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.