Facebook has unveiled plans to hire 10,000 employees within the European Union over the next five years to help build its virtual world concept known as the 'metaverse'.
Facebook sees the metaverse as the next frontier of web development that it believes will bring virtual reality and augmented reality to the masses.
At a time when hybrid work is expected to become the norm and when tech giants are facing scrutiny from regulators over competition and privacy, Facebook is betting its European recruitment drive will help it develop a 'responsible' metaverse.
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"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 blogpost.
"No one company will own and operate the metaverse," it continues. "Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers. For Facebook, it will also require continued investment in product and tech talent, as well as growth across the business."
The company says it needs "highly specialized engineers" to bring the concept to life and that it will be working with governments across the EU to source talent in an upcoming recruitment drive across the region.
Another reason for looking to the EU for talent is that policy makers there are trying to ensure that the technology advances still align with European values like free expression, privacy, and transparency.
"We hope to see the completion of the Digital Single Market to support Europe's existing advantages, as well as stability on international data flows, which are essential to a flourishing digital economy," Facebook notes.
Facebook in September announced it would earmark $50 million to ensure metaverse projects are developed responsibly. The funds were announced by Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's VP of virtual reality, and Nick Clegg, its VP of global affairs.
Facebook wants the metaverse to be a "set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren't in the same physical space as you."
Facebook expects many products will only be fully developed in the next 10 to 15 years.
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Since the pandemic, the main apps that business and education users have turned to are Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. AR and VR haven't made much impact at all.
However, Facebook in August launched Horizon Workrooms in a bid to bring virtual reality to conference rooms. It's an online tool Facebook has used internally for meetings with remote workers in the pandemic and requires the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset to function.
The two metaverse announcements notably come in the wake of Facebook whistleblower Lances Haugen's damaging claims that Facebook hides information from the public and governments around the world, and that it hid research showing that Facebook-owned Instagram causes young people mental harm.
Facebook, in a blogpost on Sunday, also contested that its AI had little impact on stopping hate speech on its platforms. That was one of the issues raised in documents Haugen leaked in what's known as The Facebook Files, some of which suggested Facebook intentionally exploits divisive content to make more profits.
"The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last month.