Unsafe by Design: Meta Quest VR Headsets Are a Sales Disaster

Microsoft DOS was a horrible, terrible, awful product from the 1980s. Why? It was a single-user product. If more than one user tried to use the system, it couldn’t distinguish them apart, let alone offer them a safe sharing environment (e.g. privacy).

Few realize that all of Wal-Mart stupidly ran retail sales using DOS (instead of, just for one easy example, CP/M-86 on the 4680). I can’t emphasize this enough. Wal-Mart intentionally put its most sensitive customer data through systems managed with zero ability to protect customers from harms.

The IBM 4680 deployments at Wal-Mart were managed by NCR techs who preferred and pushed the “ease” of single-user MS-DOS (i.e. layaway POS)

This was so unbelievably, incredibly negligent… Microsoft should have forfeited its profits to the millions of people harmed by Wal-Mart implementations of DOS.


…a security audit performed for the company in December 2005 found that customer data was poorly protected. …top-tier companies such as Wal-Mart were theoretically required to be in compliance with the standards by mid-2004. Wal-Mart says it received a number of deadline extensions. […] A hacker or malicious insider who compromised a point-of-sale controller or in-store card processor at one store, could “access the same device at every Wal-Mart store nationwide,” [auditors] wrote.

Deadline extensions were a huge mistake, a result of the “too big to be simple” problem. And it’s trivial to see the market imbalance, the profit-driven reasons why Wal-Mart threw all its customer data safety out the window.

None of us here are dictators (hopefully, and I doubt the CEO of Facebook comes here) meaning none of us live in a single-user world, so companies surely know (for over four decades already, or longer if we count time-share computers like Multics) they shouldn’t flog digital products that lack basic multi-user safety.

The 1960s and 1970s were supposed to deliver cloud computing, artificial intelligence and even driverless cars. Really. Source: “Claims to the Term ‘Time-Sharing’“, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, Vol 14, No 1, 1992


We have to read headlines today of the utterly inhumane and detached Meta failing with their launch of a dictator-minded headset.

Part of the reason is that many shoppers aren’t comfortable trying one on in a store.

The headsets are prone to collect dirt and grime and smear your makeup. During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, people were especially resistant to put them on in stores, even though Meta paid to have cleaners on hand to sanitize the headsets between each use, said a former Meta employee who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.

Dead as a dirty DOS means DOA.

Washed my dirty Quest head strap and ruined it. Can you not wash these things? Now what? …I noticed that my beautiful bald head was getting outbreaks of spots on the sides and then realized that my Quest head strap was pretty dirty. Most likely the culprit. […] Surely you’re supposed to be able to wash these things, right? They do get quite filthy over time…

Meta Quest literally makes even one single user unhealthy in multiple ways and can’t be cleaned. Yuck. Sharing? Fuhgeddaboutit.

The irony, naturally, is that Facebook is absolutely terrified of “in-authenticity” or dirty collisions whenever identities are setup on their time-sharing software platform. Unclean identity interferes with profits (advertisers hate paying for user overlap, as it’s basically fraud) so engineers have gone totally nuts over carving “real clean” differences into any software user identity. But then when it comes to actual human diseases, reactions and even death from sharing bodily fluids… Facebook is all like “here’s a wipe and spray, who cares just slop your face together with someone else you don’t know”.

This is not the first time I’ve pointed to a major product design culture failure at Meta related to selfish unregulated greed (e.g. their “Incel” edition of RayBan glasses). It’s a deep-seated management problem related to their awful origin story: one man creating an unsafe space where he could coerce and control the thoughts of targeted women.

The CEO and founder allegedly got his start in technology by collecting digital pictures of women without their consent and using that to intentionally target them with harm by exposures inviting public ridicule and shame. Source: Facebook

In other words, don’t enter or use Meta unless you are the Meta CEO… or until the whole thing is forced to accept multi-user personal data storage ethics (e.g. the anti-monopolist action that forced Microsoft to decouple browser and OS). That’s a lesson as old as the very first vote to remove tyranny and replace it with representation and accountability. Or, if you prefer computer history, as old as Multics.

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