Facebook’s Transition To Meta: Metaverse, Controversies & The Future. Facebook marked its first presence in the VR space in 2019 when it launched Facebook Horizon, an immersive environment that people can experience using the Oculus headset.
Facebook’s large investments in virtual reality hardware and products are widely known, so are the short-lived failures that followed in that space. Despite that, Zuckerberg announced in July this year that Facebook intends to bet it all on metaverse. In August, Facebook made headlines for showcasing and promoting a VR app that lets people take meetings in virtual reality.
In September, Facebook also announced a $50 million fund for research in building metaverse products responsibly. This was followed by the announcement of a $10 million creator fund for their developers in their Horizon Worlds platform. Eventually, in October, Mark Zuckerberg announced the change of Facebook’s name at the company’s Connect event, which is focused on AR/VR, and shared that the new title, Meta, does more justice to the company’s core ambition which is to build the metaverse.
“I wanted to discuss this now so that you can see the future that we’re working towards and how our major initiatives across the company are going to map to that,” Zuckerberg said at the event. “What is the metaverse? It’s a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces. You can kind of think of this as an embodied internet that you’re inside of rather than just looking at.”
What Is The Possible Reason Behind This Major Shift From The Earlier Core Vision?
It may come as a surprise to a lot of you but Facebook was, in fact, quite late in leveraging the mobile apps revolution. What we had back then were painful HTML5 experiences that were nowhere close to native apps that were fast becoming mainstream. It was not until 2012 that Zuckerberg realized that apps will define the future. Needless to say, he left no stone unturned in creating seamless mobile experiences for users. And since then, the company hasn’t overlooked any potential emerging technology to avoid repeating the same mistake again. This is evident from Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus in 2014 which marked their entry into the VR market. Becoming a metaverse company can be seen as an evolution of their venture into the virtual reality space.
Another reason, for this major rebranding, could be to distance themselves from the growing negative branding which Facebook has been through over the years. Despite the increasing business, Facebook has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, too. From the 2016 Russian elections disinformation and privacy lapse incidents such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the very recent revelations from a whistleblower who was a part of Facebook’s civic integrity team, Facebook is one of the most infamous tech companies when it comes to being under greater scrutiny than any other tech company. So it’s only fair to draw a line before venturing into something new and trying to rebrand themselves.