As Facebook turns its focus to researching and building the metaverse, which it calls the "next computing platform," the social giant plans to work with a number of partners, including policymakers; researchers at the University of Hong Kong and Howard University; industry stakeholders; and organizations like Women in Immersive Tech, Africa No Filter, Electric South and the Organization of American States.
The new XR Programs and Research Fund will invest the money globally over two years to ensure metaverse tech is built with inclusivity, privacy, safety and economic opportunity in mind, per the announcement. Before this week, Facebook's most recent metaverse endeavor was a platform called Horizon Workrooms, a beta app that lets Oculus users host virtual reality (VR) meetings with colleagues. Now, it appears the social networking behemoth is taking a slightly different tack toward building the metaverse with a focus on research and scale, while painting itself as a responsible technology partner.
The news follows a slew of negative events surrounding Facebook's suite of social platforms. The company on Sept. 27 announced it was pausing a kid-focused Instagram after a report by The Wall Street Journal claimed Facebook knew Instagram was bad for teenage girls. The social media giant also has said it's working to be more transparent about what posts its algorithms bury from users' News Feeds. Despite these and other efforts, Facebook continues to get caught up in controversy: It apologized to researchers earlier in September after providing inaccurate data, and its oversight board recently requested more information about how the platform moderates its celebrity users differently.