Jeff Chiu / AP
LONDON (AP) – Facebook has said it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computer platform that promises to connect people virtually, but may raise concerns about privacy and social platform greater control over people. online life.
In a blog post on Sunday, the company said that these highly skilled workers would help create a meta-universe, a futuristic approach to connecting to the Internet that uses augmented and virtual reality.
Facebook executives have touted the metaworld as the next big thing after the mobile Internet, although their track record is spotty for predicting future trends. Expectations made four years ago by CEO Mark Zuckerberg about a virtual vacation with distant loved ones through a headset or using a smartphone camera to practically improve the apartment have not yet been met.
The company also struggles with antitrust repression, allegations of ex-employees and concerns about how it handles vaccine-related and political misinformation.
“As we begin the life of the metaverse, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook’s most pressing priorities,” said Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs, and Javier Olivan, vice president of central products, in a blog post.
Facebook recruiters target Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland for hire. As of June, the company said it had more than 63,000 employees worldwide, up 21% from the same period last year.
Millions of avatars would have access to the metaverse
The metaverse is essentially a huge virtual world that can be accessed in real time by millions of people through avatars that can use it to hold virtual meetings or buy virtual land, clothing, or other digital assets, often paying with cryptocurrencies.
The social network is not the only one working on the metaverse, and Facebook has acknowledged that no company will own or manage it. Other players include maker Fortnite Epic Games, which has raised $ 1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans to build a metaverse.
“There will be no specific meta-universes for specific companies. There will be only one meta-universe,” said Tuong Nguyen, an analyst who tracks immersion technology at research firm Gartner.
But there are concerns that Facebook and several other Silicon Valley giants will eventually monopolize the metaverse and use it to collect and profit from personal data, which reflects the situation with the Internet.
Last month, Facebook announced a $ 50 million investment to fund global research and partnerships with human rights groups, nonprofits, governments and universities to develop products responsible for the metaverse. But the company added that it would probably take 10 to 15 years to “fully sell” many of these products.
The term meta universe was coined by writer Neil Stevenson for his 1992 science fiction novel. Snow disaster but it has recently found new life in the world of technology business as startups and technology giants try to bet on new trends.
Some include “a little laundering of the metaverse” or applying the term to existing augmented reality initiatives and other technologies to take advantage of the hype surrounding it, Nguyen said.
“This will help boost their reputation, at least for now, as one of the leaders of meta-universe initiatives,” he said of Facebook’s latest push. “But like any big technology trend, there will be competing ideas and competing standards.”
The British Parliamentary Committee is to hear two Facebook whistleblowers
On Sunday, in a separate blog, the company defended its approach to combating hostile remarks in response to a Wall Street Journal an article examining the company’s inability to detect and remove hateful and excessively violent posts.
The British Parliamentary Committee, which is working on Internet security legislation, was to hear two Facebook informants. The bill proposes large fines or other penalties for online companies that do not remove or restrict the distribution of harmful materials, such as sexual abuse of children or terrorist content.
Sophie Zhang, a data scientist who raised the alarm after finding evidence of online political manipulation in countries such as Honduras and Azerbaijan, appeared before the committee on Monday before being released. She said that social media companies should constantly apply the policy, adding that this is not what happened on Facebook.
According to her, fake accounts that were not directly linked to a political figure were easier to delete than those that were not.
“This has had a perverse effect, as it creates an incentive for big politicians to essentially commit crimes openly,” Zhang said. She compared it to the fact that the police spent a year detaining a robber who was a member of parliament and did not wear a mask.
“It’s an analogy of what’s happening on Facebook,” Zhang said.
Next week, the committee will hear Francis Haugen, who released Facebook’s internal research, which she copied before leaving work earlier this year. This month, Haugen testified at a U.S. Senate hearing that she was accused of using Facebook platforms to harm children and inciting political violence, and that her British appearance would be the start of a tour to meet with European lawmakers and regulators.
Editor’s note: Facebook is among the financial supporters of NPR.