What is the Metaverse? Facebook Speculation, New Concerns

What is the Metaverse? – The Metaverse is the latest trend to capture the imagination of the tech industry. Facebook currently employs thousands of engineers across Europe to work on the Metaverse. Video game companies have also presented their long-term visions for the Metaverse, which is expected to be the next leading player in the online world.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on October 28 that the company would change its name to Meta.

The Metaverse can be said to be a vision of the future, but it is also an ongoing flagship vision that Mr. Zuckerberg envisions. However, the technological development has not progressed as much as was originally expected, and even though many years have passed since the concept was started, the road to popularization is still far away.

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What’s more, many worry that the company will attract more individuals than ever through its new online world, which is directly connected to Facebook, which has been criticized for its inadequate efforts to keep harmful content out. The point is that the data is accessible.

Below, let’s take a look at this next-generation online world, the Metaverse.

What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is supposed to be very realistic, or at least 3D rendered. Zuckerberg explains that it’s a “virtual environment” that you can actually step into and experience, rather than just looking at a screen. Simply put, the Metaverse is an infinite, interconnected virtual community accessed using virtual or augmented reality headsets, glasses, smartphone apps, and other devices where we interact with people. You can meet, work and play in it.

Victoria Petrok, an analyst who specializes in emerging technologies, said the Metaverse will also add other features of online life, such as shopping and social media.

What is the Metaverse

“The Metaverse is a new evolutionary stage in communication technology. This seamless alternate world includes everything. will be,” he says.

However, Tuong Nguyen, who tracks trends in immersive technology at research firm Gartner, cautions against sloppy expectations, saying, “It’s hard to do justice to something that hasn’t been built yet.”

In fact, Facebook itself is cautiously estimating that it will take 10-15 years to develop a fully functioning metaverse product. By the way, the term Metaverse is a coined word that appeared in the 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neil Stevenson.

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What is possible in the Metaverse?

In the Metaverse, you can attend virtual concerts, go on online trips, buy and try on digital clothing, and more.

The Metaverse could also become a game changer that accelerates the trend of telecommuting under the COVID-19 pandemic and greatly changes the structure of society. Instead of just seeing their faces on a grid screen in a video calling app, the Metaverse lets you meet your colleagues face-to-face in a virtual world.

Facebook has already released a corporate conferencing software called Horizon  Workroom that uses Oculus VR headsets . However, it cannot be said that the evaluation at the time of the initial release is high. Pricing over $300 for the headset in the first place, it’s hard to say that it will deliver a state-of-the-art Metaverse experience to a wide audience.

At the moment, only users who can afford to pay that price can transform themselves into their own avatars and fly freely through a number of virtual worlds created by various companies.

“The biggest advantage of experiences in the Metaverse is the ability to instantly teleport from one experience to another,” Zuckerberg said.

Tech companies, however, still face the technical challenge of how to interconnect their online platforms. According to Petrok, competing technology platforms must come together under a single standard for the Metaverse to work effectively. It doesn’t work well in situations where people are separated from those who gather in the Metaverse.

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Will Facebook put all its effort into the Metaverse?

Without a doubt, Mr. Zuckerberg himself expects that the Metaverse will occupy a large share of the future digital economy as a next-generation Internet service, and he is showing a serious attitude to work on it. It envisions a future where people see Facebook as a metaverse company rather than a social media company.

 Meanwhile, the company has recently been sued for violating antitrust laws, has faced other perils, including a whistleblower scandal from former employees and concerns about its handling of fake information. Critics have speculated that Facebook’s latest move may have a hidden intent to distract the public from these crises.

Former Facebook employee Frances Hogen has accused the platform of harming children and inciting political violence.

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Is the Metaverse a Facebook-only project?

The answer is no. Zuckerberg acknowledges that “one company” won’t build its own metaverse.

Nguyen said Facebook is certainly trying to lead the metaverse, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook or any other tech giant will have a monopoly over the metaverse.

“There are many startups that could compete with us in the future, and new technologies, trends, and applications that we cannot even imagine today,” he says.

Video game companies are also likely to play a leading role in the Metaverse. Epic Games, the parent company behind the popular game Fortnite, has already raised $1 billion from investors to support its long-term plans for building the Metaverse. 

The game platform “Roblox” is also one of the major players in the metaverse field. Roblox’s vision is “a Metaverse where people can come together, learn, work, play, create and interact through millions of 3DEXPERIENCES”.

Consumer brands are also entering the metaverse. Italian fashion brand Gucci launched a digital-only collection of accessories in collaboration with Roblox in June this year. 

Coca-Cola, a major beverage company, and Clinique, a cosmetics brand, are already selling digital-exclusive items as a first step into the Metaverse.

However, Zuckerberg’s conception of the Metaverse runs counter to the basic Metaverse principles that are most emphasized by core users and experts in virtual space in several respects. 

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The Metaverse they envision is a breakthrough from the current situation in which existing high-tech companies represented by Facebook monopolize the ownership of user accounts, images, posts, and playlists, and collect data at will. It’s about opening up online culture to everyone.

“We don’t just want people to roam the internet,” said Steve Zhang, a managing partner at Kindred Ventures and a venture capitalist who specializes in cryptocurrency technology. We want people to be able to roam freely online without being tracked or monitored.”

Will the Metaverse become a tool for further collection of personal data?

Clearly Facebook wants to bring its current business model of monetizing targeted ads using personal data to the Metaverse.

“Advertising will continue to be a key part of our strategy for the social media division we operate, and will likely be a key source of revenue for the Metaverse,” Zuckerberg said in the company’s latest earnings call.

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But Nguyen said there are new concerns about privacy violations. In other words, “in addition to the problems we already have, there are new risks that will only become problems once the metaverse is fully understood.”

Mr. Petrok said that if Facebook continues to develop the Metaverse without resolving these issues on its current platform, in the Metaverse world where more personal data is required to be provided, there will be problems such as misuse of data and dissemination of misinformation. He said he fears the problem will get worse.

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