Facebook Accidentally Shipped VR Devices With Secret Messages Saying 'Big Brother Is Watching'

Tens of thousands of touch controllers shipped with labels like 'Big Brother Is Watching,' and 'The Masons Were Here.'

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Apr 12 2019, 9:47pm

Image: Facebook

Facebook's virtual reality subsidiary Oculus has shipped tens of thousands of its touch controllers with sinister-sounding messages the company described as “easter eggs.” The messages included phrases like “Big Brother Is Watching You,” “The Masons Were Here,” “This Space for Rent,” and “Hi iFixit! We See You!” iFixit is a company that advocates for right to repair and provides training and materials to help with DIY electronics repair projects.

Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell broke the news on Twitter. “Unfortunately, some ‘easter egg’ labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers,” Mitchell said on Twitter. “But those were limited to non-consumer units. While I appreciate easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed.”

Facebook told Motherboard it was aware of the labels. “They were intended to be removed pre-production, not intended to ship in consumer units,” Facebook spokesperson Johanna Peace said in an email. “Because of a process error, they were not removed. They were meant as easter eggs for internal prototypes only.”

Facebook and Oculus were light on details regarding the process error. “We don’t share personnel details, but we conducted a full review of what happened and examined our processes across the board to see what we could improve,” Peace said. “The important thing to know is that we've fixed our process error so this doesn't happen again.”

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