Turns out, Meta isn't building its own metaverse at all

Surprise, everyone!
Ameya Paleja

In a twist to the tale about Facebook's big leap toward building the metaverse, the company's President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, has said that it does not want to build its own metaverse at all, Futurism reported.  

At the height of accusations of spreading misinformation, hate, and violence last year, Facebook announced a major pivot from social media to build a brand new world that it called the metaverse. Rebranding itself to Meta was the part of the exercise that also saw the company unveil a virtual reality app and announce popular games that would soon be available on its VR headsets. 

Is Meta changing its approach? 

Back in October last year, when Mark Zuckerberg first unveiled his plans for the metaverse, he was quite specific about going beyond the social media experience of today and seamlessly incorporating VR and AR into its own apps and services. It was to build this vision that the company announced that it would hire 10,000 engineers to work towards building this digital space.

However, a 31-minute read on Medium from Clegg points in a completely different direction. Amidst the long paragraphs of hypothetical situations and recounting events that have taken place over decades in the computing world, Clegg goes on to state the many benefits of the metaverse and how Meta cannot be the main provider of this digital space.

Clegg even refers to "rent-seeking instincts of dominant platforms", in his piece that completely overlooks the fact that the company raked in US$ 114 billion in revenues in 2021 alone, thanks to its dominant positioning. 

Moving towards an open metaverse

Clegg laments the fractured internet that the world is seeing today due to two dominant operating systems and how users need to operate in the silos of these "walled gardens" due to a lack of interoperability between them. 

To avoid a similar fate for the metaverse, the company wants the digital world to be a more open and interoperable space built by not one or two tech giants but by a mix of public and private initiatives. Clegg has also called upon regulators to invest early in determining the rules of these spaces, so tech companies are not accused of "charging ahead too quickly."

It does seem strange that the company that jumped the gun and spent billions of dollars on the metaverse in one quarter of 2021, now suddenly wants to talk about a more inclusive and open framework. It is likely the impact of tens of billions spent on the metaverse, with little to show for that is bringing out such statements from the company. 

In the short term, it might be better for Meta to refocus on its conventional platforms while technologies that make up the metaverse gain more traction. While that seems like an acceptable strategy, it is not clear whom this 8000-word soup was supposed to impress. Probably, Meta could begin with being open about that first. 

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