Facebook makes few friends with latest big deal

The Post's Brian Fung tells you what you need to know about Facebook's plan to acquire Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset for video games. (Jason Aldag and Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

 

Every time Facebook buys another company, the wailing spikes. Tuesday it reached a fever pitch, after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the purchase of Oculus VR.

For those unfamiliar with Oculus, the Post’s Brian Fung explains: “it’s the company behind the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that turns video games into 3D experiences.”

The gear looms larger on the face than Google Glass, more like a Darth Vader helmet knocked askew or some military headgear from Iraq. But it’s a game for everyone, except for Zuckerberg.

“This is just a start,” he wrote on Facebook yesterday as he explaining that Oculus lets you “enter a completely immersive computer generated environment… After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.”

Just below Zuckerberg’s post,  one commenter wrote:

No….no no no no non onono non ooo no oooh no oooooh no OOOOHH NOO

And another:

“Virtual reality social network? Imagine the privacy issues there.”

There were plenty of yea-sayers to the announcement.

But the sense of grievance and resentment directed at Facebook is escalating.

Some think Facebook is trying to take over and reshape the world in ways they don’t like. Some just don’t like companies getting so big and taking over smaller companies. Others just hate Facebook and everything it stands for. They think it’s creepy.

The anti-Facebook sentiment was particularly stark among some Oculus fans and backers Tuesday night who directed their anger in particular at co-founder Palmer Luckey. Oculus was funded in part by small donors through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website, and some kickstarters felt kicked.

“I first read about this on ArsTechnica,” wrote Noah Wexo on Kickstarter’s forum.  “And I literally checked the date to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. To paraphrase several people’s comments from that article, I don’t have an F big enough to go with the WT. This is a huge betrayal, Palmer. Make no mistake about it, you’ve just lost a huge chunk of the faith and pride we all had in you and in what you started with our help.”

He added: “We gave Palmer our hard-earned cash to help start what we thought was the beginning of a VR revolution by a small intensely-focused group of visionaries and engineers. Having them sell out to Facebook, which is widely seen as the embodiment of all that is wrong with the new digital economy, is truly heart-breaking.”

The sentiment was echoed on the Oculus forum:

“I’m out,” wrote one former fan.

“Close the door behind you,” replied a loyalist.

The most publicized comment came from Markus Persson, creator of the popular title “Minecraft” for computers and mobile devices.

“We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus,” Persson said. “I just canceled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”

Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.

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Fred Barbash · March 25, 2014