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Facebook aims to build ‘metaverse’ online shared world

Facebook is creating a product team to work on the “metaverse,” a digital world where people can move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced.

The team will be part of the company’s virtual reality organization, the group’s executive Andrew Bosworth added in a Facebook post.

The “metaverse,” a term coined by sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson, refers to a shared online world in which multiple users can hang out, spend money, consume media and potentially even work.

“You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content – you are in it,” Mr Zuckerberg told The Verge in an interview.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

It has also bought a bevy of VR gaming studios, including BigBox VR.

It has about 10,000 employees working on virtual reality, The Information reported in March.

Mr Zuckerberg has said he thinks it makes sense to invest deeply to shape what he bets will be the next big computing platform.

“I believe the metaverse will be the successor to the mobile internet, and creating this product group is the next step in our journey to help build it,” he said in a Facebook post last night.

He told The Verge: “If we do this well, I think over the next five years or so … we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a metaverse company.”

Epic Games, the US company behind video game sensation Fortnite, early this year announced it raised $1 billion in new funding, with some of that money to support its vision of the metaverse.

Hit video games such as Fortnite have seen use soar during the pandemic, and their creators see potential to expand to virtual parties, get-togethers or work events.



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