Facebook has decided to move forward in the ever-expanding world of the Internet with “Metaverse,” which aims to take Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) to a new level. As a big step in the new direction, the social media giant changed its name to Meta on Thursday. The company also teased that it was working on a number of developments to bring the Metaverse to life through its online presence. But what exactly is Metaverse and how could it change the way we use the internet today?
The term metaverse isn’t as new as it was coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash in 1992. Nonetheless, the Menlo Park, California-based company is ready to turn this fictional world into a reality.
“The Metaverse is not created by a company. It is being built by creators and developers creating new experiences and digital objects that are interoperable and unlock a massively larger creative economy than what is constrained by today’s platforms and their policies, ”said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO, all in one public letter published on the Internet.
The American writer Stephenson defined Metaverse in his novel as a shared virtual space in which people connect virtually with others via the Internet, VR and AR. Individuals were given the opportunity to create their avatars in virtual space. But this original concept of the metaverse has not yet been finalized.
Many companies, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft, have been trying for some time to expand their business with virtual spaces and their native AR experiences. However, Facebook seems to have gained the advantage of the first mover by not only demonstrating its interest in building the metaverse, but also by renaming itself to meta.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced us to the telework culture. But the concept of the metaverse is one step ahead in this direction. It means living in a world where your high quality avatar communicates with others in virtual spaces. You have devices like glasses or headsets that help you stay connected to the virtual world.
Facebook has been working very actively for some time to bring VR and AR closer to the internet. The company first showed its interest in immersive experiences in 2014 – when it acquired VR headset maker Oculus VR. The step of digging deeper into the virtual “metaverse” and adopting Meta as the company’s new name, however, is something that Facebook would like to use to fundamentally change its overall business.
“From now on we will be Metaverse-First, not Facebook-First. That means, over time, you won’t need a Facebook account to use our other services, “Zuckerberg said.
When it announced its Horizon Workrooms VR Remote Work app in August, Facebook showed us a glimpse of what we could see with its Metaverse move. It also began investing millions of dollars in building Metaverse using its existing and new resources.
The timing for the launch of its Metaverse-focused plans and new brand name, Meta, seems quite interesting as the company faces litigation over its functioning as a social media network in global markets. The company has often been accused of preferring political power and not using resources to limit fake news, misinformation and hate speech. It has also recently been alleged that it did not monitor abusive content on its platforms worldwide, despite knowing about it.
Some believe Facebook might be able to overcome some of these allegations and criticisms by shifting its focus to the metaverse. However, the company has not yet given any clarity on how it would proceed with the new business and whether it would consider what it has learned so far when designing new virtual experiences.
Meanwhile, some internet users have been comparing Facebook’s metaverse to the metaverse in Stephenson’s Snow Crash, which depicts instances of the virtual world infected by a computer virus.
That was all I could think about while everyone was discussing Facebook’s new direction.
Yes, the future of Snow Crash was a dystopian future that we shouldn’t be aiming for, even though we almost have the technology to build it. https://t.co/Zy4WBJPSjI
– Rylie, legal (@darkpanictwitch) October 28, 2021
“Our hope is that within the next decade the Metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars in digital commerce, and support jobs for millions of creators and developers,” said Zuckerberg.