In full view of regulators and lawmakers, Facebook is facing one of its worst crises in history after a series of leaked documents about its neglect of content moderation — even the company’s decline led to testimony in the US Senate and a strong pressure on the company’s performance. But Mark Zuckerberg’s strategy was clearly to look the other way and create a new brand almost out of nowhere, which would represent the new focus of his business in something called the metaverse.
With this, the company will operate with a focus on a large virtual world, and not just on social networks. Of course, the strategy seems to aptly come at a time when the company needs to escape scandals in the new age. A shift towards the metaverse could change the company’s own name.
The renaming was revealed by the tech site the edge. Only for the metaverse project, Facebook has already committed more than 50 million US dollars. However, although the word has made headlines, its concept is still unknown – a little difficult to understand.
What is metaverse?
Metaverse is a broad term. It usually refers to the shared virtual world environments that people can access over the Internet. The term can refer to digital spaces made more realistic using virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR).
Some people also use the word metaverse to describe game worlds, where users have a character who can roam around and interact with other players. Many science fiction books and films, for example, are set in entire metaverses – alternate digital worlds that are indistinguishable from the real physical world. But this is still a fantasy. Today, most virtual spaces look more like the interior of a video game than realistic.
However, the accelerating interest in this alternative world can be seen as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. With more and more people starting to work and attending school remotely, so has the demand for ways to make online interaction more realistic.
Facebook now has more than 10,000 employees focused on building devices, such as augmented reality glasses, that would help access the company’s metaverse. In Zuckerberg’s vision, these devices will be as ubiquitous as smartphones in the future. In September, the company announced a $50 million investment to build the metaverse: resources will be used over two years to ensure metaverse technologies are “built in an inclusive and enabling manner.”
The company also said it plans to work with researchers in four areas, including privacy and data security, to allow users to get help if something it finds in the metaverse is causing discomfort.
Thus, Zuckerberg found an ideal path for his interests: investing in a new concept not only shifts the focus from the fact that the company lives, but also puts Facebook in a position to explore new lands (in which it is possible to improve “control” of the undiscovered aspects of technology).
Facebook is not a pioneer
The idea of the metaverse is attracting a lot of interest from investors and companies looking to be a part of the next big thing. Zuckerberg said in July that the company will attempt to transition from a social media company to a metaverse in the next 10 to 15 years. This is where the billionaire who intends to rebrand the parent company of WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram comes in.
However, the term is common in Silicon Valley and does not imply the exclusivity of Facebook in the business. Microsoft also has teams developing these technologies, citing the convergence of the digital and physical worlds. Also, the popular children’s game Roblox, which debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in March, describes itself as a metaverse. Fortnite, by Epic Games, is also part of the metaverse.
One example of how to turn these technologies into useful tools is Google, which is developing a feature called Project Starline. It simulates a 3D video call between users. With high-resolution cameras, the impression is that callers are talking through a window or a glass wall. Facebook may want to go further than Google’s project.
One characteristic that helps shape the metaverse is the interaction between the virtual world and the real world. In Fortnite, musicians can perform virtual concerts within the platform – with tickets sold and audiences interacting with each other. Epic Games said that in September, for example, millions of people watched singer Ariana Grande perform in a virtual show at Fortnite. It is the VIP area of the digital world.
The metaverse is not limited to music events. The world’s largest fashion companies, such as Hermès, Burberry and Valentino, have turned their shows into virtual carpets, with iconic images of pieces that people can use in metaverse environments.
Metaverse fans believe that this is the next stage in the development of the Internet. Currently, people interact with each other online by accessing websites such as social media platforms or using messaging apps. The idea of the metaverse is to create new online spaces where people’s interactions can be multidimensional, where users can immerse themselves in digital content rather than simply watching it./ With Reuters
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