Tencent technology news on September 25, Facebook began to push the new concept of “yuanuniverse”, not only to promote the research and development of hardware such as virtual reality devices, but also to divert the attention of regulators on antitrust and get rid of the increasingly serious dilemma faced by the company.
This summer, Facebook executives face a difficult task. Over the years, Facebook, as a social media platform, has been criticized for spreading wrong information, infringing on user privacy and suppressing market competition. Facebook needs a new image.
Therefore, Facebook began to push the new concept of “meta universe”, hoping to create a large-scale virtual world through a variety of exciting new hardware. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, people can play games, attend meetings, do business and so on in the metauniverse. Perhaps most importantly, people see Facebook’s ideas again.
In recent weeks, Facebook announced a series of ambitious plans to promote its virtual reality headgear as a necessary tool for professionals to work remotely, and launched a smart glasses in cooperation with ray ban. In addition, according to two people familiar with the company’s plan, the company is also considering developing a medical device. This series of measures shows that Facebook is looking forward to re building itself into an innovative technology provider.
Facebook’s frequent action in the hardware field is not only a public relations gimmick, but also a carefully crafted plan by Zuckerberg to turn the company into a passionate project away from social media disputes. According to more than a dozen current and former Facebook employees and think tank experts, this is also a strategy and part of a broader effort to restore the company’s reputation and reposition Facebook in a new wave of regulation launched by regulators and Internet companies.
Metauniverse has become a dominant strategy in Facebook’s office in Washington, D.C. The company is meeting with some think tanks to discuss setting standards and protocols for the upcoming virtual world. Some people say that this can divert Facebook from some urgent but unpleasant topics, such as the large-scale antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission against Facebook last year. Next week, Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, also plans to deliver a speech entitled “journey to the metaverse” at the creative event Atlantic Festival.
At the same time, Clegg and Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s operation director, have replaced Zuckerberg as the company’s main personnel in dealing with external affairs. Zuckerberg once told aides that he didn’t want to get involved in such affairs again. This week, Zuckerberg also let Andrew Bosworth, the company’s Senior Hardware Director and close friend, take over as chief technology officer. The move highlights Zuckerberg’s expectation that Facebook can transform from a troubled social media company to a future technology provider.
Joan Donovan, a professor at Harvard University, said that the purpose of Facebook’s push for metauniverse seems to be to avoid the attention of regulators and deal with the potential problems brought by new technologies in advance.
“As long as you can make technology look fresh and cool, you can avoid regulation,” Donovan said. “You can use it to buy years before regulation catches up with you.”
Kevin McAlister, a Facebook spokesman, said that the company had invested heavily in the field of virtual reality many years ago.
He said in a statement that we “focus on helping to build the meta universe because it is the successor of the mobile Internet.” “this is not a reputation issue, but a fundamental issue. We are now discussing it with policy makers, scholars, partners and other experts because we hope to promote it responsibly.”
Although Facebook is eager to move forward, it is constantly pulled back to reality. The company is currently facing the antitrust lawsuit re filed by FTC in August this year, and the upcoming laws in Europe may also weaken the business model and products of social media companies.
Although Facebook had conceived a meta universe strategy long before the recent surge in bad news, some people were still shocked by its recent actions. One of them compared the strategy to responding to the California fire, but encouraged people to travel to Hawaii.
New York University Professor Paul Barrett said: “at this time, many companies will send some kind of reconciliation signal.” “but Zuckerberg now says that we are starting to conquer new areas of the digital world and reshape the digital world. Facebook seems to have no response to the mood at that time.”
In less than 10 years, Facebook has changed from a company known as the symbol of American innovation to a typical example of how a technology platform brings a series of social hazards. These problems have led regulators to legislate and file lawsuits against the technology industry frequently.
Some people believe that Facebook will effectively use the meta universe strategy to ensure that people accept its ideas on how technology companies can regulate themselves.
This approach draws in part on Facebook’s usual strategy. The company has previously tried to reshape in more subtle ways, such as shifting its business focus to encryption and privacy in 2019. Facebook has also launched hardware products before, including smartphones in 2010 and 2012, but they all ended in failure. Its recently released portal video call device is not attractive.
At the earnings conference call held in July this year, Zuckerberg surprised investors by talking about Facebook’s future in very different terms.
“I expect people will move from seeing us as a social media company to seeing us as a metauniverse company,” Zuckerberg said. The term metauniverse cited by Zuckerberg first appeared in science fiction and has only recently been accepted by venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.
He assumed that the metauniverse would be bigger than Facebook in some way and not controlled by any company. This description is similar to the description of the Internet itself by Internet pioneers, but it has little impact on the highly competitive technology industry.
Facebook executives hope that the continuous attention to metauniverse and its supporting hardware products can free the company from the plight of social media and let regulators and the public look at Facebook in a less negative light. But some respondents said they were worried that the concept of metauniverse and hardware might be affected.
They added that any product or idea associated with Facebook too much could be negatively affected. Facebook launched a cryptocurrency project called Libra in 2019.
Members of Facebook’s policy team believe that they can offset this negative impact by introducing the idea of metauniverse to think tanks and other companies as soon as possible. Related companies may also become partners to formulate development rules for the “next” Internet.
According to some unnamed sources, the clear task of the company’s policy team is to shift the topic about Facebook away from antitrust, including the lawsuit filed by FTC and other antitrust related bills recently proposed by the U.S. Congress.
Earlier this year, Facebook published a blog saying it was studying artificial intelligence “based on wrist input”. One of them described the device as a smart watch with a heart rate monitor. But as the company is exploring, entering the field of medical devices may require FDA approval, and Facebook first needs to gain a foothold in front of the agency.
In June this year, before officially promoting the concept of meta universe, Facebook tested the water and held a “data dialogue” activity with a think tank. Think tank experts including Chris Riley, senior researcher of technology policy at R Street Institute, attended the meeting. Facebook executives discussed the company’s attempts to enter more advanced technologies such as virtual reality and oculus. Riley said Facebook is working to reduce potential harm and ensure that its AI is inclusive.
“They’re trying to look like bad guys,” Riley said. (compiled by Tencent technology / Jiao Han)