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Facebook acquires Oculus VR: Is Zuckerberg on a spending bender?

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sergesegal/ Sergey Galyonkin

Facebook, announced Tuesday that it had reached a “definitive agreement to acquire Oculus VR, Inc., the leader in immersive virtual reality.” The purchase cost the social networking giant a measly $2 Billion. This is just one of several recent purchases Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg has made in the name of his company in recent times in an attempt to expand his digital empire. But, is this buying spree going to pay off for him in light of the massive algorithm changes made to Facebook that have left users and businesses all over the world less than happy?

Oculus VR isn’t Zuckerberg’s only major purchase this year.

In February Zuckerberg also bought WhatsApp, a cross-platform mobile messaging company. Only, he didn’t get quite as good of a deal on it as he did with Oculus VR. The college-drop-out-turned-billionaire spent $16 billion on that, a sum which many in the tech industry felt was “way over-paying.”

Of course, if the company can provide it’s customers (users) with an outstanding product and service line these massive back-to-back purchases might turn out to be wise investments.

Don’t alienate your customers before making multi-billion dollar purchases like Oculus VR.

But, therein lies the problem. Back in late December, even before the WhatsApp acquisition, the social media giant made a change to it’s primary display algorithm that left people and businesses all over the world less than happy with it.

In fact, many users are beginning to abandon their Facebook timelines in favor of social media sites that allow them more control over what they see. And that is the crux of the matter with the change. Facebook’s official line on the change is to help ensure only “quality content” winds up in user newsfeeds. If by “quality” they mean pages who pay them to increase the exposure of their posts, then they’re right. Unfortunately for Facebook that’s not what the average user considers “quality”.

How we ‘think’ Facebook works is not how Facebook works.

The assumption is that if you “friend” someone or “Like” a page that you, as the user, will see their posts and links. You want to follow their activity, which is the reason you friended or liked them in the first place. You want to know “what’s going on with them.” And that is the way the facebook newsfeeds used to work.

However, all of that changed at the turn of the year, when Facebook’s new algorithm went into effect. Now most pages are reporting a 90% drop in feed exposure via “organic reach”, which is post showing up in a user’s newsfeed simply because the user “liked” the page and interacts with it by “liking” and “sharing” their posts.

Replacing these are posts and pages that are “promoted”, “sponsored”, or “suggested.” The last one implies that no money exchanged hands and it’s just Facebook doing you a solid by suggesting a new page based off of your known interests. But this isnt’ true. All of these things are nothing more than paid advertisements.

Now, imagine having to be assaulted by these ads in virtual reality.

This our fear over Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR.

We don’t even want to be bombarded by the ads on 2-dimentional screens where we can scroll past them. What makes Zuckerberg think that we’ll put up with having them crammed into our pre-frontal cortexes via our optic nerves?

The purchase of Oculus VR looks like a bad omen for the future of social networking via anything that has to do with Zuckerberg. This very well might be the time to really start worrying.