Saturday, October 16, 2021

Facebook enters the metaverse world

Mark Zuckerberg envisions the future of Facebook and invests in virtual reality Mark Zuckerberg announced his vision to turn Facebook into a metaverse company. Describing his new initiative Facebook CEO told that he wants to reinvent the popular social media platform and lead the way to a new internet era.

“In the coming years, I expect people will transition from seeing us primarily as a social media company to seeing us as a metaverse company. In many ways the metaverse is the ultimate expression of social technology” he said.

Although the whole project is still in its infancy, the Facebook chief executive and his team are already working on how Facebook plans to profit from this transition and how much it will cost to pivot Facebook from an ordinarily social media platform to a metaverse company.


The notion behind a metaverse company

The term ‘metaverse’ is nothing new. The concept was introduced back in 1992, by Neal Stephenson, an American novelist, in his science fiction classic Snow Crash and it described a vision whereby the internet will evolve into a virtual world.

Nowadays, the term has been involved into something more complex and refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space. Reflecting this notion into Mark’s vision, it seems that the Facebook chief executive wants to employ AR and VR technology and empower users with the ability to create avatars and ‘co-exist’ both in a physical and no-physical world.

In other words, Facebook will be transformed into a platform where users can create realistic avatars of themselves and socialize, communicate and work into a virtual and augmented reality world. A very popular cultural example of the metaverse world is definitely “The Matrix”, while in the gaming world we can detect a lot of similar ideas and forms of metaverse world.


The first step

Although Mark Zuckerberg explained that it would be years before his vision took shape, Facebook launches VR remote work app, something that can be conceived as a step to the ‘metaverse’ world.

The popular social platform introduced Horizon Workrooms, an app where users of the company’s Oculus Quest 2 headsets – in countries where Quest 2 is supported – can hold meetings by using avatar versions of themselves.

“We’ve been using Workrooms to collaborate here at Facebook already, and we think it’s one of the best ways to work if you can’t be physically together,” said Facebook in a written announcement. “We think VR will fundamentally transform the way we work as a new computing platform, defying distance to help people collaborate better from anywhere. Horizon Workrooms is a big first step towards this vision, and we look forward to hearing your feedback”.

Also, the platform ensures users that it will not use work conversations and materials to inform ads on Facebook and that within Horizon Workrooms, Facebook and third-party apps do not access, view, or use images or videos for the virtual meetings to target ads. “We’re committed to ensuring Horizon Workrooms is a safe and secure space to collaborate, and we’ll continue taking steps to protect your data and how it’s used to deliver powerful VR experiences,” said Facebook.

Lately, however, Facebook has been at the center of negative criticism both for the exploitation of users’ data and for anti-competitive practices in online advertisement.

It is going to take few years for Facebook plans to play out. The idea behind Zuckerberg’s metaverse strategy is still vague and since technology is rapidly changing and constantly growing, the concept of a metaverse world is both a promising and an unknown future condition, which may present risks.

George Mavridis
George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics.

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