Would you trust a Facebook OS? Reports say it’s building an operating system
As Facebook data scandals become part of the regular news cycle, the social media network wants to launch a new operating system rather than running hardware on a competitor’s. During an interview with The Information, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of hardware, said that the company is working on an operating system for the next generation of technology.
“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us. We didn’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case,” Bosworth said in the interview. “And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”
The Facebook OS is likely destined for the social media giant’s hardware, including Oculus virtual reality headsets, Facebook Portal, and hardware that’s currently in the works for the company. Facebook also indicated that this custom OS could be the missing piece needed to augmented reality glasses.
Oculus and Portal currently use a version of Android. That means Facebook has to rely on a competitor’s product. An operating system can also limit what apps can do until the capability is supported by the OS. (While Facebook is looking for a custom OS for it’s own hardware, the move would likely have no bearing on users continuing to use Facebook apps on iOS and Android devices).
Facebook’s push for hardware is evident in the company’s new 770,000-square-foot space that’s currently under construction. The hardware team will be moving to the new space next year, including testing and prototyping. The space will eventually house around 4,000 Facebook employees roughly 15 miles from the company’s headquarters.
How a Facebook-owned operating system would affect user privacy is unclear. The social media giant already uses data from devices including Oculus and Portal to serve up more targeted ads in Facebook itself. Earlier this week, a researcher uncovered an online database that had obtained the data of 267 million Facebook users. Most of those users are based in the U.S. The breach saved Facebook IDs, phone numbers, and names, and could have potentially been used for phishing and spam.
Privacy scandals last year led to Facebook’s new data policy that attempts to be less obscure about what information the network has on you.