Meta VR headsets to stop requiring Facebook accounts

Why it matters: The Meta Quest 2’s affordability has made it the most popular headset in the VR market. For some, however, its biggest drawback is that it requires a Facebook account. That hang-up disappears starting next month with Meta’s independent VR account system.

Starting in August, Meta will roll out a new account system for its VR platform, separate from Facebook and Instagram accounts. The company also plans to introduce a new profile system and privacy controls.

Those who start using a Quest 2 after August must set up a Meta VR account. Existing users have until January 1, 2023, to transition. At that time, users already logged in through Facebook or Instagram can migrate to a Meta VR account, then choose whether it remains linked with the aforementioned social accounts.

Creating a Meta VR account also means creating a Meta Horizons profile, which controls each user’s appearance in Meta VR spaces, containing their name and avatar. Those with Oculus profiles will have to convert them to Meta Horizons.

Instead of friends, Horizons profiles will have “followers” like Instagram, with three privacy control modes: open to everyone, friends and family, and solo. There will also be a private setting where you can manually authorize everyone who wants to follow you. Only approved members can view your followers and those you choose to follow in private mode. However, your basic details like name and avatar are still public.

These changes will likely please those interested in VR who don’t want to link social media accounts to headsets. The prior Facebook requirement raised concerns that Quest headsets could become social surveillance and information-harvesting tools. It remains to be seen how much the independent Meta accounts will alleviate those fears.

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