What is the Metaverse or Meta-verse?
When talking of Metaverse or Meta-verse it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. Zuckerberg has described it as a “virtual environment” you can go inside of instead of just looking at on a screen. Essentially, it’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices.
The term “Metaverse or Meta-verse” is the latest buzzword to capture the tech industry’s imagination so much so that one of the best-known internet platforms is rebranding to signal its embrace of the futuristic idea.
Meanwhile, the social media giant Facebook has changed its name to Metaverse in a major rebrand as the social media giant faces an scrutiny over its business practices. The company said the new name (Meta-verse) would better “encompass” what it does now, a reference to its plans to invest in virtual reality.
The Meta has made clear its future goal is to create an online world, called Meta-verse, where people can work, game and communicate in a virtual environment, using VR headsets. “From now on, we’ll be Meta-Verse first, not Facebook first as you know us before,” Meta-Verse CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday. “Over time, you won’t need to use Facebook to use our other services.”
Last week, the company said it would hire 10,000 people in the European Union to build its Meta-verse project. It is investing $10 billion in the project.
“Today we are seen as a social media company, but in our DNA we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier just like social networking was when we got started,” Mr Zuckerberg said.
“We believe the meta-verse will be the successor to the mobile internet. We’ll be able to feel present – like we’re right there with people no matter how far apart we actually are. We’ll be able to express ourselves in new joyful, completely immersive ways.”
The name change comes as the company faces scrutiny after a former employee leaked damaging documents showing the company knew its brands such as Instagram had negative impact on young people but focused more on profit-making. Facebook, as it was then known, has denied wrongdoing. On Thursday, the company said its “corporate structure is not changing.”
Why Facebook Change Name to Metaverse?
Facebook changed its name to Metaverse following the standing facts that, people are temporarily distracts from Facebook’s unending barrage of bad press. For years the social media giant has been under fire for encouraging the spread of misinformation and for its opaque policies around user data. Matters have only gotten worse in recent months after a whistleblower exposed many of the company’s secrets.
At the same time, the social platform is falling out of favor with younger users. Many are instead flocking to the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. Facebook makes money by selling targeted advertisements to marketers. But if user numbers dwindle, advertising revenue will, too.
What are the concerns about Metaverse?
The overwhelming concerns, particularly in the context of the Frances Haugen revelations and the widespread targeting of social media by state-backed hackers, are privacy and security.
For instance, an advertiser targeting you in a virtual world might not just be reacting to old-world data like your age and gender: what about your body language, your physiological responses, knowing who you are interacting with and how?
Facebook has already announced a $50m (£36m) investment programme to ensure the metaverse is built responsibly”, with the money distributed among organisations and academic institutions such as Seoul National University and Women in Immersive Tech.
Is Facebook going all in on the Metaverse?
Zuckerberg is going big on what he sees as the next generation of the internet because he thinks it’s going to be a big part of the digital economy. Critics wonder if the potential pivot could be an effort to distract from the company’s crises, including antitrust crackdowns, testimony by whistleblowing former employees and concerns about its handling of misinformation.
Former employee Frances Haugen has accused Facebook’s platforms of harming children and inciting political violence after copying internal research documents and turning them over to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They also were provided to a group of media outlets, including The Associated Press, which reported numerous stories about how Facebook prioritized profits over safety and hid its own research from investors and the public.
Is Metaverse the same as Facebook?
No! Other companies talking up the metaverse include Microsoft and chipmaker Nvidia. “We think there’s going to be lots of companies building virtual worlds and environments in the metaverse, in the same way there’s been lots of companies doing things on the World Wide Web,” said Richard Kerris, vice president of Nvidia’s Omniverse platform. “It’s important to be open and extensible, so you can teleport to different worlds whether it’s by one company or another company, the same way I go from one web page to another web page.”
Video game companies also are taking a leading role. Epic Games, the company behind the popular Fortnite video game, has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse. Game platform Roblox is another big player, outlining its vision of the metaverse as a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize.”
Consumer brands are trying to jump on the trend, too. Italian fashion house Gucci collaborated in June with Roblox to sell a collection of digital-only accessories. Coca-Cola and Clinique have sold digital tokens pitched as a stepping stone to the metaverse.
What is motive of Metaverse?
Zuckerberg’s embrace of the metaverse in some ways contradicts a central tenet of its biggest enthusiasts. They envision the metaverse as online culture’s liberation from tech platforms like Facebook that assumed ownership of people’s accounts, photos, posts and playlists and traded off what they gleaned from that data.
“We want to be able to move around the internet with ease, but we also want to be able to move around the internet in a way we’re not tracked and monitored,” said venture capitalist Steve Jang, a managing partner at Kindred Ventures who focuses on cryptocurrency technology. It seems clear that Facebook wants to carry its business model, which is based on using personal data to sell targeted advertising, into the metaverse.
“Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what we do, and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse, too,” Zuckerberg said in a recent company earnings call. Petrock she said she’s concerned about Facebook trying to lead the way into a virtual world that could require even more personal data and offer greater potential for abuse and misinformation when it hasn’t fixed those problems in its current platforms.
How much spent on Metaverse?
Billions of dollars a year already on Metaverse, the company said this week that investment in its Facebook Reality Labs division where the company works on VR and AR would reduce operating profit by $10bn (£7.25bn) in 2021.
It is a significant sum, but Facebook generates huge amounts of money from its core business of harvesting users’ data and then charging advertisers to access those people with targeted ads (focusing on things such as gender, location, income, relationship). Across Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and, of course, its eponymous platform, Facebook generated a net income – a US measure of profit – of $29bn last year from its 2.8 billion daily users. It can afford $10bn.
The term metaverse a combination of the prefix meta (meaning “beyond”) and universe was coined in Snow Crash, a novel by American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson. The spiel on the Amazon website says it was written “in the years 1988 through 1991 as the author listened to a great deal of loud, relentless, depressing music”.
The novel’s protagonist, Hiro, is a hacker and a pizza delivery driver for the mafia and the first explanation of this virtual world in the novel states: “So Hiro’s not here at all. He’s in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing into his goggle and pumping into his earphones. In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse. Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.” And if Facebook gets its way, so will you. Michael Abrash, chief scientist at Facebook’s Oculus business and a key figure in its VR efforts, said in a blogpost: “It all started with Snow Crash.”