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Facebook Plans to Hire 10,000 in EU to Build ‘Metaverse'

Facebook announced plans to hire 10,000 people across the European Union countries over the next five years to work on a new computer platform that will enable people to connect electronically but could raise privacy issues and give Facebook more power over people’s online life.

Those high-skilled people will help construct “the metaverse,” a futuristic concept for connecting online that incorporates augmented and virtual reality, according to a blog post published by the firm on Sunday.

For more of the latest Singapore news that you can get regularly, keep it here. Read on for an in-depth look at this new metaverse.

Opening up for the future

The metaverse has been touted by Facebook executives as the next big thing after mobile internet, despite their track record in anticipating future trends. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s four-year-old predictions of taking virtual holidays with faraway loved ones via a headset or utilizing a smartphone camera to virtually enhance an apartment have yet to materialize.

Antitrust investigations, the testimony of whistleblowing former employees, and worries about how it handles vaccine-related and political misinformation are all on the table for the corporation.

For the hiring push, Facebook’s recruiters are focusing on Spain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Ireland. In June, the company reported having more than 63,000 employees around the world. At this point, the number of employees is now up 21% from the same time last year.

The new metaverse

If you still have no clue what a metaverse is, Straits Times has gone to describe it as a vast virtual world that millions of people can enter in real-time via avatars and use to organize virtual meetings, buy virtual land, clothing, and other digital goods, and pay for them with cryptocurrency. If you’ve seen the movie Ready Player One, that’s pretty much it.

The social network isn’t the only one working on the metaverse, and Facebook has stated that it will not be owned and operated by a single corporation. Other players include Fortnite maker Epic Games, which has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse.

There won’t be any metaverses dedicated to individual businesses. According to Tuong Nguyen, an expert for research firm Gartner who follows immersive technology, there will only be one metaverse.

However, there are concerns that Facebook and a few other Silicon Valley behemoths will monopolize the metaverse and exploit it to acquire and profit from personal data, similar to how the internet is already used.

Last month, Facebook announced a $50 million investment to support global research and cooperation with human rights organizations, nonprofits, governments, and universities to develop metaverse-friendly products. However, many of those goods will most likely take 10 to 15 years to “completely actualize,” according to the business.

The word “metaverse” was coined by author Neal Stephenson for his science fiction novel Snow Crash in 1992, but it has recently resurfaced in the digital industry as startups and tech behemoths compete for a piece of a rising trend.

Some of this is “metaverse-washing,” or the use of the phrase to describe current activities in augmented reality and other technologies in order to capitalize on the excitement, according to Nguyen.

He went on to say that it will help them increase their profile as one of the metaverse’s leaders, at least for the time being. It will be similar to any other major technological development in that there will be conflicting concepts and standards.

What’s next?

In reaction to a Wall Street Journal report and other SG news outlets about the business’s inability to detect and remove hateful and extremely violent posts, the firm defended its approach to combating hate speech in a separate blog post published on Sunday.

Two Facebook whistleblowers were scheduled to testify before a British parliamentary committee working on internet safety legislation. The bill proposes hefty fines or other punishments for internet providers that fail to delete and prevent the spread of hazardous materials like child sexual abuse or terrorist content.

According to AsiaOne Singapore, Frances Haugen, who went public with internal Facebook research that she copied before quitting her employment earlier this year, will testify before the committee next week.

This month, Haugen appeared before a US Senate committee about her claims that Facebook’s platforms hurt children and instigate political violence, and her visit to the United Kingdom will mark the start of a tour of European legislators and regulators.