Facebook tries to distract from its negative press in October 2021 with the magic word “Metaverse”. What is behind it still seems rather vague. Second Life and the Gogle Glass were attempts that went in a similar direction, but were unsuccessful. We will know more in 2030. Zuckerberg wants to have introduced Metaverse by then.
The first week of October 2021 was a tough time for Facebook. Facebook felt more pressure than it had since the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. First, there was a whistleblower with worldwide reports in all media. Then, on October 5, 2021, the network went down for six hours for technical reasons. Facebook, WhatsAPP and Instagram were inaccessible. The predominantly youthful social media junkies complained of withdrawal symptoms. Group CEO Zuckerberg urgently needed positive headlines. Metaverse was the watchword.
The idea isn’t as new as it seems. Eighteen years ago, nerds around the world raved about a “big thing” that over the years proved to be “the last little thing.” From 2006 on, millions of net enthusiasts met on Second Life. By 2008, the number grew to 36 million, only to drop to one million by 2010. Second Life is a 3D virtual world where people use virtual worlds to interact with each other via avatars, artificial graphic figures. Here you can find everything that exists in the real world and much more.
Based on this, Zuckerberg wants to create “the next big thing”. The name has already been chosen: “Metaverse”. This term comes from the 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson, which Zuckerberg understands to mean a digital parallel world in which physical, augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge into a single cyberworld. Instead of clicking posts on a two-dimensional network, people are supposed to meet, shop, play, confer or make love in the metaverse. “You can think of Metaverse as a kind of embodied Internet – instead of just looking at content, you’re really inside it,” Zuckerberg said. Three to five virtual monitors float in space, designed to give users a sense of real presence and proximity to other people. In the new virtual world, Facebook wants to push ahead and make Metaverse the measure of all things. Exactly what the new universe will look like is not yet known, but the circulating narratives could boost the share price. Since 2014, it has been laying the groundwork for its next big thing. Twenty percent of the workforce is directly and indirectly involved. “We will change from a social media company to a metaverse company relatively soon,” Zuckerberg proclaims. He is targeting the year 2030.
Behind his plans is a fear of missing the next big tech trend. That’s what happened to him with mobile Internet use. He was left with only the advertising business, while Google and Apple were cashing in big time. Facebook wants to be more than just a social media platform, generating 98 percent of its revenue from online ads. Zuckerberg and his deputy Sandberg are also considering new revenue streams. In connection with Metaverse, the idea of augmented reality glasses is forcing its way into the discussion. They’ve been around since 2013, but have yet to catch on with the digitally-minded public. Sales of Google Glass, launched with much fanfare, were discontinued a few years later.
We can be happy about the promised 10,000 Metaverse jobs in Europe, but we should not forget that Facebook is a rigorous data collector that follows its users right into their most intimate areas.