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What is the Metaverse?

You’ve probably already heard the term “metaverse” tossed around quite a bit over the past few months. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, made headlines when he announced a new metaverse centered on Facebook – now officially known as Meta Platforms – but what exactly does he mean? What does he have in store for the millions of current Facebook users?

What is a Metaverse?

The term “metaverse” is nothing new. It was originally coined in the 1990s and it’s been used to describe various networked, intertwined universes; primarily within fictional worlds and applications. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, is a metaverse in and of itself. Many video games, particularly those with ongoing sequels or prequels, are also set in their own metaverses.

So how does this concept apply to Facebook and the real world? In short, nobody really knows.

Enter the Facebook Metaverse

According to most experts, the Facebook metaverse will, once it’s complete, provide a VR-based platform for connecting and engaging with other uses in new ways. Unfortunately, the new methods for connecting are unclear at best. Making matters even worse is the fact that most of the advertised technologies that are expected to bolster the Facebook metaverse don’t even exist yet.

In reality, we don’t even know for sure that Facebook’s metaverse will contain a VR component. This speculation stems from the release of Horizon Worlds, formerly known as Facebook Horizon, which is a free-to-play VR game that was released in late 2021. Although it has yet to pick up any real steam, most view this game as the official beginning of Zuckerberg’s planned metaverse.

But this still leaves us with more questions than answers. Perhaps even more importantly, it’s already leading to quite a bit of controversy, as Horizon Worlds has already been called out for sexual harassment on its platform. A reported issued by the Washington Post also cites concerns over the lack of parental controls and the potential for online child exploitation.

In an attempt to prevent issues like this from occurring in the first place, Horizon Worlds is only available to users who are 18 years of age or older. However, with lack of genuine age verification controls, it’s still accessible by minors. According to the Washington Post’s report, this could leave them vulnerable to online sexual predators.

The team with Facebook, which recently changed their named to Meta, isn’t the only one exploring the potential of the metaverse. Accenture, an IT and consulting firm based out of Ireland, has already seen tremendous interest in next-gen metaverse services from their customers.

Paul Daugherty, CTO and group chief executive for technology with Accenture, summarized the metaverse by saying: “The metaverse is something for here and now, not just tomorrow. The client interest we’ve been seeing across industries is really amazing. It is time to stake your claim in the metaverse.”

Even though we’re still unsure of where the metaverse will take us in the coming years, it’s a captivating concept that remains on the mind of many in 2022 and beyond.


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