Facebook to invest $50 million in its ‘metaverse’

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Facebook has announced USD 50 million (about Rs 370.6 crore) investment in global research and programme partners to ensure that “metaverse” is “developed responsibly”. Metaverse – according to the social media giant – is a set of virtual spaces where people can create and explore with others, who aren’t in the same physical space as them. People will be able to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop and create with others.

“As we focus on helping to build the next computing platform, our work across augmented and virtual reality and consumer hardware will deepen that human connection regardless of physical distance and without being tied to devices…The metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone…Many of these products will only be fully realised in the next 10-15 years,” Facebook said in a blogpost.

The US-based company noted that it will work with experts in government, industry and academia to “think through issues and opportunities in the metaverse”.

It added that human rights and civil rights communities will also have to be involved from the start to ensure these technologies are built in a way that’s inclusive and empowering.

“There’s a long road ahead. But as a starting point, we’re announcing the XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year USD 50 million investment in programs and external research to help us in this effort. Through this fund, we’ll collaborate with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits and academic institutions to determine how to build these technologies responsibly,” it said.

Facebook said there are a few key areas where it will work with others to anticipate the risks, including areas like encouraging competition and maintaining a thriving digital economy; minimising the amount of data that’s used and building technology to enable privacy-protective data uses; and giving people tools to take action or get help if they see something they’re not comfortable with.

The efforts will also focus on making sure these technologies are designed inclusively and in a way that’s accessible.

Facebook said it will be partnering with organisations such as Women in Immersive Tech, Africa No Filter, Electric South, and the Organization of American States.

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