“As we begin to bring the Metaverse to life, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities,” Facebook executives Nick Clegg and Javier Olivan wrote in a statement.
The idea behind the metaverse is to create an internet-like space, where users (via digital avatars) can walk around and interact with each other in real time. In theory, users could sit around a virtual meeting table with distant colleagues and then go to a virtual Starbucks to meet a friend who lives in another country.
Facebook faces competition in developing the metaverse from immersive gaming platforms like Roblox and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. Similar projects have been in the works since 2003, when Linden Lab launched a virtual world called Second Life.
Facebook said the metaverse will not be owned or managed by any company.
“Like the Internet, its main feature will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing this to life will require collaboration and cooperation between companies, developers, creators and decision makers, ”said Clegg and Olivan.
Jeremy Dalton, Head of XR [Extended Reality] at PwC told CNN Business: “Relocating to Europe is a smart move for any organization interested in the potential of the metaverse. It’s not just a question of where the skills lie.”
“This new era of digital interaction will inevitably intersect with government policy and consumer and business interests in privacy, data protection and more,” added Dalton.
Facebook described it as “an exciting time” for the European tech industry, saying it boasts “a large consumer market, top-notch universities and, most importantly, top-quality talent.”
The Instagram and WhatsApp owner touted investments in AI research in France and a new office in Ireland as measures of his engagement in the region.
But it is also a period of heightened surveillance of the company by regulators in the EU and the UK.
Pressure on the company is mounting from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic after a whistleblower publicized allegations that Facebook has repeatedly prioritized profits over the public good. Appearing before U.S. lawmakers earlier this month, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen detailed a series of concerns, including the company knowing it was serving harmful content related to the unrest. feeding to young users and that the use of Facebook by authoritarian leaders could present national security. concerns.
Another Facebook whistleblower, Sophie Zhang, will appear before British lawmakers later Monday for a hearing on the role of social media in normalizing hate speech.
Clare Duffy contributed reporting.
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