Facebook, through all its applications, reaches more than 3 billion people but its brand is badly damaged by the countless privacy and fake news scandals that come to light day in and day out, and, on top of that, young people see Facebook as a mom-and-pop app. They prefer TikTok.
So one can better understand why the ‘metaverse’ is so important for Zuckerberg and the company’s name change to Meta.
The ‘metaverse’ is not just another application or platform. It is an ambitious, arduous and long road along which the founder wants to transform the entire company so that its ambitions are not weighed down by third parties. He intends to adopt new revenue streams beyond increasing the efficiency of the algorithm to economically squeeze its users and advertisers with which to increase the splendor of his empire.
It will be, so to speak, an Internet within the Internet. And in that Internet, accessed through virtual reality or augmented reality glasses, the limits will no longer be set by rival companies like Apple and Google with their phones. It’s a way of getting inside the Internet rather than just observing it.
“The defining quality of the metaverse will be the feeling of presence, as if you’re right there with another person or in another place. Feeling truly present with another person is the ultimate dream of social technology. That’s why we’re focused on building it,” Meta says in its release.
The Metaverse is designed to extend over three main pillars: entertainment, socializing and work. There, Zuckerberg says, creators will enjoy new opportunities selling virtual clothing, artwork or even aesthetic changes to avatars, 3D representations of users within the virtual world.
Here’s the key. He envisions a virtual empire where every economic transaction and social interaction occurs through his platform. And for every one of them you will obviously expect to make a profit. He will no longer limit himself to “collecting taxes” through advertisements in his app; he will be able to do so through every sale, advertisement and activity developed in his ‘metaverse’.
This is why its ambitious, daring and risky endeavor is understandable. Not only would it mean safeguarding the company’s future, but it would also manage, once again, as it did with its social network Facebook, to mold it to its whim. A future that does not slip through his fingers.
For the moment, however, this ‘metaverse’ is still all Greek to the consumer and the press. It sounds like the eccentricities of someone who announces applications, uses and potential markets ten years ahead. What little virtual reality ‘software’ it currently offers is reserved for a very specific demographic for which it is rarely useful. They are all demos with much to be polished for a future that, in reality, perhaps only the companies themselves want. Who likes to have business meetings to have to watch your boss gesticulate like a 3D doll on top of that? Outside of video games, it will be harder to sell consumers on the benefits of always being connected, seeing message alerts and receiving advertiser notifications constantly within their field of vision.
Zuckerberg is betting the company’s future on an idea, a promise, that we don’t know when it will become a real product. For many a delirium, an eccentricity. An attempt to re-shape the course of the Internet. According to its vision, it will be the culmination of its mission to “connect the world”. But, if locked into an application within a third-party platform, Facebook’s negative impact has been so great in terms of political polarization and proliferation of anti-vaccine discourse. What will happen within its ‘metaverse’? Because now we read disinformation and hate speech on mobile, but there they will be able to point and shout at us. Will there be ‘meta-police’ too or just ‘meta-advertising’ and ‘meta-food’?