Meta. What is it, and why is it the new brand name for Facebook? Let’s talk about it.
On October 28th, Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, a rebranding of the Facebook name to bring several technologies under a single company brand. Its purpose is to bring about this ‘metaverse’ so that people can connect, create communities and businesses.
Unlike conventional social media platforms, the metaverse aims to allow people to connect in more ways beyond just text and video camera calls. Using augmented and virtual reality technology, the metaverse will allow users to experience virtually every aspect of social interaction and entertainment through a 3D render. As Zuckerberg describes it, as a ‘virtual environment’ that you can enter.
In summary, it’s being able to ‘enter’ the internet. So you can partake in communities, work, play like one would normally do, but in the medium of virtual reality. Additionally, it promises to allow for other features and amenities such as being able to go shopping, go on a trip, attend a virtual concert or try on and buy digital clothing.
Knowing all this, the metaverse does seem like a promising enterprise, but how accessible is it? Well for starters, because it is virtual reality, one would need to purchase the hardware required to simulate the medium. The Oculus VR Headset or similar equipment can run for $300 or more, putting it out of reach for the average consumer. Even with that in mind, the quality of this equipment for its price has come into question as well.
In the meanwhile, tech companies will also still have to figure out how to integrate their platforms into the metaverse and vice versa. Accounting for the many platforms which may or may not integrate with the metaverse, there’s bound to be inconsistencies across the many integrations, so some standards may be needed in place.
Regardless, what does this mean for the future of Facebook, or social networking in general? Is this just another way for Mark Zuckerberg to get more of my data? Well, for the latter part, as far as Facebook is concerned, yes. Facebook will continue to use personal user data to sell targeted advertisements into the metaverse. “Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across social media parts of what we do, and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse too,” says Zuckerberg in a company earnings call. With no intention to give these practices a second look, it appears that there’s potential for Facebook’s business model of collecting and selling personal data may become even more prevalent, especially when its problems haven't even been addressed with its current platforms.