Tens of thousands of Facebook Oculus virtual reality (VR) controllers contain bizarre 'hidden' inscriptions warning that "Big Brother is Watching" and "The Masons Were Here" among other things ominous messages, according to Business Insider.
According to Nate Mitchell, cofounder of Facebook-owned VR organization Oculus, the messages were "easter eggs" which were only meant for prototypes.
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. [2/3] pic.twitter.com/po1qyQ10Um— Nate Mitchell (@natemitchell) April 12, 2019
Mitchell added "While I appreciate easter eggs, these were inappropriate and should have been removed."
And while the affected units haven't shipped yet, Facebook spokeswoman Joanna Peace told Business Insider that they will ultimately go out to consumers with the hidden messages inside.
"To be clear, no devices have been sold with these messages yet, since Quest and Rift S have not yet shipped. That said, as mentioned in Nate's tweet, the messages will be inside tens of thousands of controller pairs that will ship to consumers when Quest and Rift S ship," wrote Facebook in an email - which kind of makes this look like a giant advertising stunt.
"We think it's important to be transparent with our community and take responsibility when there's an error," added the company.
While most users of the Touch controller will never see the hidden messages, it's an awkward misstep for Facebook, which has faced sustained criticism on privacy issues for more than a decade.
It comes as Facebook attempts to push virtual reality into the mainstream, and the company is also gearing up to launch its long-awaited Oculus Quest, an all-in-one virtual reality headset, in the coming months. -Business Insider
Misstep or marketing campaign?
The inscriptions are sure to draw comparisons to Mark Zuckerberg's 'illuminati' hoodie, which he revealed during a 2020 interview with Recode editor-at-large Kara Swisher.