Explained: What Is Facebook Metaverse, And How Does It Work
Electronics & Gadgets  

Facebook has made an announcement that it will soon be employing 10,000 high-skilled workers in Europe to help build its “metaverse," which it considers to be the future of the internet. Even its founder, Mark Zuckerberg has come forward to speak about how Facebook would “effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company." 


What is 'Metaverse'? 
"Meta", the prefix of the term, comes from Greek and means beyond, after or across. Hence, the term metaverse can be understood as a place that is beyond the world or the universe as we know it, one that exists in the virtual realm but feels just as real.
It was coined in a 1992 sci-fi novel called Snow Crash, written by Neal Stephenson, where the term referred to the convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality where people interact with each other using their avatars. This whole idea is being hailed as the next step in the development of the internet along with creating new infrastructure and real-time 3D worlds. 
A metaverse can be broken down into two parts. 
One of them deals with building a blockchain-based metaverse, using NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Some of the examples are Decentraland and The Sandbox, which allow people to purchase virtual parcels of land and build their own environments.
While the other one is a simple, virtual world where people can meet and greet each other. Facebook is working towards creating this version of metaverse. 
Is this a new phenomenon? 
Not really, not for the gaming enthusiasts at least. For anyone who has watched The Matrix or is aware of Fortnite and Ready Player One, it would be easier to comprehend the process and the functioning this concept will be based upon. Facebook is planning something very similar to what these gaming products offer; somewhat like taking the player inside a virtual world where meetings could be held using virtual reality (VR) headsets, in a chosen avatar and background setting. 
However, the virtual world envisaged by Facebook is not just going to be about gaming only but rather it would be more inclusive and expansive in terms of providing facilities from office to entertainment. The concept aims to provide an online world where people can interact, collaborate and communicate without needing to be physically present in the same space. 
Facebook metaverse investment
In the recent past, it has been observed that Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its big priorities. And for that, it has invested heavily in VR through its Oculus headsets. Analysts believe the tech giant has even incurred loss in the process of increasing the product's sale by keeping its price lower than the competitor's price. 
Facebook has also gone a step ahead and created a VR world with the launch of Facebook Horizon in 2019. But for now, it's an invitation-only immersive environment that users can enter by putting on an Oculus headset. Further, in August this year, the company rolled out Horizon Workrooms, a feature where co-workers wearing VR headsets can hold meetings in a virtual room where they all appear as cartoonish 3D versions of themselves.


What will happen to data privacy?
The timing of the job announcement has come under the limelight and questioned by the experts. Even though the company has not shared much details about data privacy and how data will be used and protected in the metaverse, serious concerns related to Facebook's handling of user data in the past remain to cast a shadow over the whole project, which ultimately leads to the qualitatively different approaches the company would have to take this time. 
However, this whole idea of metaverse is centred around Europe as of now, where the European Union has put in place some of the world’s strictest data privacy and processing rules as part of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is viewed as a part of a strategy to stay in step with regulators while creating the new tech.



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