The era of Facebook has ended this Thursday. The witness takes it “Meta”. “From now on our priority will be the metaverse, not Facebook,” said Mark Zuckerberg, who has decided to change the name to one of the most recognized brands on the planet to show his conviction in the future of this technology, which he considers the next internet revolution.
Zuckerberg imagines the metaverse as an immersive network with large doses of virtual reality. During the presentation of the new name of his company, the tycoon has shown a digital world in which it is possible to work, study or carry out leisure activities through customizable avatars and in spaces created to measure for each user.
“When I started with Facebook, we just wrote text on web pages. When we got camera phones, the Internet became more visual and mobile. As connections became faster, video became a richer way of sharing experiences. We have gone from the desktop to the web and to the mobile phone, from text to photos and video. But this is not the end of the journey, “he assured.
The next platform will be even more immersive: a personal Internet in which the user is inside the experience, not just looking at it as a spectator
– founder and CEO of Facebook, which is renamed Meta
“The next platform will be even more immersive: a personal Internet in which the user is inside the experience, not just looking at it as a spectator. We call it a metaverse, and it will affect all the products we build,” he explains.
These changes will give more prominence within the company to Horizon, its virtual reality division. The social network Facebook will continue to be called Facebook, but the corporation that encompasses it together with WhatsApp, Instagram or Horizon itself will be renamed Meta.
Zuckerberg started talking about the metaverse as a real possibility in 2019. In recent months he has stepped up his bet until he reached this name change. However, this also coincides with the main reputational crisis of his company. One of his former employees, Frances Haugen, has leaked a great deal of internal documentation on bad practices on Facebook stemming directly from the profit motive of Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook’s top management.
Haugen has provided information to 17 US media and the country’s Senate, where he has also come to testify. “The company hides vital information from the public, the US government, its shareholders and governments around the world,” he denounced before the congressmen. The confidential reports that it has leaked indicate that the company is aware of the toxic effect on society that many of its products have, but that it has done nothing to prevent it because that same toxicity was making a lot of money.
“At the center of these stories there is a premise that is false,” said a Facebook spokeswoman in a statement sent to elDiario.es. “Yes, we are a company and we make a profit, but the idea that we do it at the expense of people’s safety or well-being misunderstands what our business interests are,” the company says.
“We are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false image of our company,” Mark Zuckerberg denounced this week. However, this supposed campaign has not affected its profits for the moment, since in the results of its third quarter Facebook has announced profits 62% higher than those it had in the same period of 2020.
An important bet
Facebook’s name change has been accompanied by a series of announcements that have shown that Zuckerberg is willing to bet the future of his company on the evolution of the metaverse. One of them has been the intention of hiring 10,000 workers in Europe to build this new technology.
Those 10,000 will double the workers that the multinational currently has in the project. The metaverse division will account for approximately 40% of the corporation’s employees. Zuckerberg’s goal is for Facebook to be as backbone in this new network as it has managed to be in today’s Internet.
As Zuckerberg imagines, the metaverse will need special devices. In September, Facebook released glasses capable of recording everything the user sees and hears. Its main function is to be another tool to take photos, videos and locations to share later on your social networks. However, the company’s plan is for them to incorporate augmented reality tools, such as a virtual assistant specialized in interpreting information from the same point of view of a person.
To train that artificial intelligence, Facebook last week unveiled a project in which it has been working with 13 universities around the world. He calls it Ego4D (egocentric vision, to use the first-person point of view) and his objective is to teach machines to interact with the real world not as observers, as they have been developed until now, but with a central role in the action. According to the company, its goal is for the assistant to be incorporated into the glasses or other technology that is worn and that it can be effective in these five fields:
- Episodic memory: What happened when? (for example, “Where did I leave the keys?”)
- Forecast: What are you likely to do next? (eg “Wait, you’ve already added salt to this recipe”).
- Hand and object manipulation: What am I doing? (for example, “Teach me to play the drums”).
- Audiovisual dailyization: Who said what and when? (for example, “What was the main topic during the class?”)
- Social interaction: Who interacts with whom? (for example, “Help me better listen to the person speaking to me in this noisy restaurant”).