Facebook is set to test advertisements in its Oculus virtual reality (VR) headsets. The social media giant said on June 16 that it will start the in-headset advertising experiment with the video game Blaston developed by Resolution Games. Advertisements will also show up on a couple of other apps in the coming weeks. The primary objective, the company said, is to bring more people into VR, advance the consumer experience, and make progress on our long-term augmented reality (AR) initiatives. Besides, it said it’s also a step towards creating a healthy and “self-sustaining platform” for VR development. Users are not too happy with the move and shared their concerns on Twitter.
Andrew Bosworth, Vice President, Facebook Reality Labs, tweeted that Facebook wanted to help developers generate revenue and help people find better experiences at better prices. “This is a part of how we’ll create a healthy, self-sustaining platform for everyone,” Bosworth wrote.
We’re starting a small test of in-headset ads with a few developers in the coming weeks. We want to help developers generate revenue and help people find great experiences at better prices—this is a part of how we’ll create a healthy, self-sustaining platform for everyone.
— Boz (@boztank) June 16, 2021
If you’re worried about what advertisements you are going to see, then there is some respite.
Bosworth, in a subsequent tweet, said that users can manage the advertisements they want to see, and “we’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads” from an advertiser completely.
“Ads in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s feedback to get right,” he said.
You can manage what ads you want to see and we’re including controls to hide specific ads or hide ads from an advertiser completely. Ads in VR will be different from ads elsewhere and this is a space that will take time and people’s feedback to get right https://t.co/dHOlqHoOVF
— Boz (@boztank) June 16, 2021
However, not many were happy with Facebook’s decision to include advertisements in their VR experience and some were furious in their responses to the announcement.
“The way you can “get it right” is to not put ads in VR. The work done by Facebook over the past 20 years is abhorrent and we can’t pretend that you’re doing anything good for society with decisions like this,” tweeted user @boztank.
The way you can “get it right” is to not put ads in VR
The work done by Facebook over the past 20 years is abhorrent and we can’t pretend that you’re doing anything good for society with decisions like this
— jongold.eth ???????? ???????????????? ???? (@jongold) June 16, 2021
“I was going to buy an Oculus to test my games on that platform, but I suddenly don’t feel that urge anymore. Thank you for alerting us to your priorities,” tweeted another user @N3X15.
I was going to buy an Oculus to test my games on that platform, but I suddenly don’t feel that urge anymore. Thank you for alerting us to your priorities.
— Rob Nelson (@N3X15) June 16, 2021
Another user, @disinformatico, said that ads were the very last thing he wanted to see in VR. “The only way to get this right is DON’T DO IT,” wrote the user.
Ads are the very last thing I want to see in VR.
The only way to get this right is DON’T DO IT.
— Paolo Attivissimo (@disinformatico) June 16, 2021
Here are some more reactions to Facebook’s announcement:
To be fair, it’s easier to manage ads by not buying your product at all.
Thanks for the heads-up!
— paercebal ???? (trying to tweetter-distance) (@paercebal) June 17, 2021
I want you to know genuinely how much I hate this, fundamentally, and there are no healthy or consumer friendly ads, and that they will be so much more vicious in VR
— Alix (@Alixbox1723) June 17, 2021
Will “no ads From anyone at any time” be an option, or do I continue never buying an Oculus?
— Kaiyalai (@Kaiyalai) June 17, 2021
You don’t need time for feedback, in what reality would anybody want ads in their VR headset. There’s no way to get it right. Nobody wants it.
— Rigtoofen (@Rigtoofen) June 17, 2021
Allowing users to “Manage ads they want to see” is simply another data grab. You are asking the user to narrow down their preference further in their own time so you can charge more for the “curated data”.
— Nicholas Shearer (@bit_by_bit) June 17, 2021
In a blog post, the company addressed some of the concerns, including that of privacy raised by users on Twitter. Facebook said that the addition of privacy doesn’t change its privacy or advertising policies. The company said that while the tests are underway, Facebook will receive information about the manner in which you interacted with the ad — whether you clicked on it or hid it.
“We do not use information processed and stored locally on your headset to target ads. Processing and storing information on the device means it doesn’t leave your headset or reach Facebook servers, so it can’t be used for advertising,” it said.
Facebook also said that it doesn’t use the content of people’s conversation on apps like Messenger, Parties, and chats or your voice interactions to target ads. This even includes any sound or piece of audio that your microphone might pick when you use our voice commands feature, like “Hey Facebook, show me who’s online.”