If you want to be ahead of the curve, you should stop calling Facebook a social media company. That’s according to Mark Zuckerberg at least, who told Casey Newton this week:
Over the next five years or so, in this next chapter of our company, I think we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.
You could be forgiven for replying “a what-averse company?!” Metaverse is a buzzword
in Silicon Valley right now, covering VR, AR, virtual worlds like Roblox and Fortnite, and anything else that creates an alternative, internet-connected world users can drop into.
It’s worth reading the whole interview, in which Zuck is clearly excited by all the opportunities presented by virtual worlds and activities. The conversation also touches on the potential problems of a future where people inhabit completely different virtual versions of the same world.
But as with anything to do with Facebook, you have to remember that this is an advertising company following the money. If the metaverse is the next big thing, Facebook wants to be there, pushing ads into your face wherever it can. Or as Can Duruk put it particularly bluntly
on Twitter, “Facebook’s ‘metaverse’ effort is better explained as an advertising company with questionable morals wanting to control every single sensory input to your brain.
Just as Instagram’s new focus on video is all about staying relevant to the audience it serves, here Zuckerberg is planting his flag in the meta-soil to make sure anyone entering the market with eyes on becoming ‘the Facebook of the metaverse’ knows they’re going to have some serious competition.
But intentions aren’t everything. Facebook may have a dominant position in VR gaming right now thanks to Oculus, but that doesn’t mean consumers will necessarily agree with whatever Facebook’s vision of the metaverse ends up being.