Facebook’s Oculus ships VR controllers with creepy hidden messages: ‘Big Brother is Watching’

Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images
Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — Tens of thousands of Oculus Touch controllers are delivering a little bit more than virtual reality.

The handheld devices from the Facebook-owned VR company are being shipped to consumers with hidden messages inside the controllers that say “The Masons Were Here” and “This Space For Rent,” the company said.

“Unfortunately, some ‘easter egg’ labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers,” Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell announced on Twitter on Friday, referring to the hardware that will accompany the new Oculus Quest and Rift S headsets set to ship this spring.

“The messages on final production hardware say ‘This Space For Rent’ & ‘The Masons Were Here.’ A few dev kits shipped with ‘Big Brother is Watching’ and ‘Hi iFixit! We See You!’ but those were limited to non-consumer units,” Mitchell wrote. The latter two messages were only in the prototypes shipped to developers.

iFixit is a group-sourced online repair manual and parts company that aims to teach consumers to repair their own electronics and reduce waste. The site posts deconstructed consumer electronics equipment whose insides might reveal such hidden text.

“While I appreciate easter eggs,” Mitchell tweeted, referring to inside jokes in software and media, “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.”

The preemptive announcement and apology were released quickly for a company that has been criticized for being slow to react to problems with its products and services.

“This was a process error. The messages were meant as easter eggs for prototypes only and should have been removed pre-production,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote to ABC News in an email. She confirmed that the units, which have yet to be shipped, will not be recalled.

Unfortunately, some “easter egg” labels meant for prototypes accidentally made it onto the internal hardware for tens of thousands of Touch controllers.

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.

The mistake messages won’t be visible in plain sight, the company confirmed.

“The messages are on an internal component of the controller – in other words, they’re inside the hardware,” the Facebook spokeswoman wrote. “Thus, you’d have to take apart the controller to see either of the messages that will be on consumer controllers (‘This Space for Rent’ and ‘The Masons were Here’).”

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