Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of building a metaverse — an all-encompassing online world— gathered momentum this week when the company announced its intention to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union with the aim of making the once science-fiction concept a reality.
The term metaverse originated in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, and described a world where people could live entirely online. Since then the definition has varied, but most consider a true metaverse to be a digital world where people can work, play games, and communicate, usually with the aid of virtual reality.
Zuckerberg has expressed his support for the concept on multiple occasions, and his purchase of virtual reality company Oculus, exploration of a Facebook cryptocurrency, and launch of various virtual work offerings has apparently been in pursuit of this goal.
“The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start,” Facebook said in a blog post about the announcement to hire 10,000 people.
The social media giant has claimed the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” , believing the concept will take another 10-15 years, and pledged to collaborate with rivals. Zuckerberg’s company recently invested $50 million into funding nonprofits helping to build the metaverse responsibly.
Facebook has come under fire in recent times over its civic integrity. Most recently, whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked documents that she said proved the company prioritized growth over safety. Additionally, internal research by Facebook found that Instagram, another social media platform it owns, was affecting the mental health of teenage users. However, the company did not share the findings when they suggested the platform was “toxic” for many young people.