Facebook…Errr… Meta.. is really into the Metaverse. Some say that even Mark Zuckerberg is obsessed with the metaverse.
It’s no secret that the founder and head of Facebook is a big fan of virtual reality, but it seems he’s more interested in the potential of the metaverse than anything else. According to some employees at the company, Zuckerberg has been talking about the metaverse for years and is determined to make it a reality. Some say he’s even become a little bit obsessed with it.
He believes that it will one day be as ubiquitous as the internet is today. And while the actual footprint of the user base on the company’s Oculus platform is relatively small, it’s growing a little bit here and there. The most popular Facebook VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, has at least 4 million users. That may not seem like a lot compared to the billions of people who use Facebook every day, but it’s still a sizable audience. And as virtual reality technology continues to improve and become more accessible, that number is only going to grow.
The real problem is that Meta is not exactly having a great year: its reputation keeps being sullied by bad news especially when it comes to privacy and security. Meta has a bad reputation. And as much as we’d like to think it doesn’t, that reputation is going to stick with metaverse if it continues to be associated with Meta.
Many experts believe that Facebook’s dominant role in the metaverse will lead to its downfall. Facebook has become a target for regulators, who are concerned about the company’s impact on society and the economy. If new regulations are enacted, they could make it more difficult for other companies to compete in the metaverse space. This could lead to a decline in innovation and creativity, and a loss of jobs and economic growth.
The potential for regulation has already had a chilling effect on the metaverse industry. Some companies are reconsidering their plans to enter the market, while others are scaling back their ambitions. This could have a significant impact on the development of the metaverse as a whole.
MetaFacebook even admits this: They recently announced that it will be spending $50 million on research to avoid ruining the metaverse. The investment will be used to fund research into ways to prevent social interactions from descending into toxicity, bullying, and other negative behaviors.
And then there is the problem that Facebook is extremely monopolistic. Zuckerberg hasn’t grown out of the “I want to rule the world phase,” and sees this as just a stepping stone for him to becoming the Master of the Metaverse.
Zuckerberg even ignored that there was already a company in the space, also called Meta and according to some, violated their trademark. An installation-art company called META (or Meta.is) is suing Meta (or Facebook) for trademark violation, alleging that Zuckerberg’s name change violated the smaller company’s established brand.
“On October 28, 2021, Facebook seized our META mark and name, which we put our blood, sweat, and tears into building for over twelve years,” reads a post on the smaller company’s website. “This includes our domain name meta.is, which now redirects to facebook.com/about/meta.”
The suit alleges that Facebook has “engaged in a pattern of trademark infringement and dilution” by using the Meta name and mark without permission. It also claims that the social media giant has caused “confusion and deception” among consumers by using a similar name and branding.
“As a result of defendants’ actions, consumers are likely to believe mistakenly that META is affiliated with or sponsored by Facebook,” the suit says. “This is precisely the type of common-law trademark infringement and dilution that the Lanham Act is designed to prevent.”
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has been accused of infringing on another company’s trademark, and just not caring. In 2011, the social media giant was sued by Timelines Inc., a startup that had developed a service with a similar name. That suit was settled out of court in 2012.
However, the government is taking note: The FTC announced that it was suing Meta, a company that it alleges is attempting to establish a monopoly in the virtual reality market. The suit notes that Meta has already made significant investments in the VR space, purchasing seven of the most successful development studios, and now has one of the largest first-party content catalogs in the world.
Since the announcement of Meta’s acquisition of Within, Kavya Pearlman, an expert in Metaverse safety has expressed her concerns with the way Meta acquiring Within maybe a lot more than just another “merger and acquisition”.
According to Pearlman, by acquiring Within, Meta has gained access to a wealth of user data that it can now use to dominate the market. She also believes that this could be the first step in a plan by Meta to create a virtual monopoly, which the FTC should step in and prevent.
“This acquisition gives Meta access to some of the most sensitive user data out there,” said Pearlman. “They can now use that data to dominate the market and control what users can see and do in the Metaverse. The FTC should step in and stop this from happening.”
“This is particularly bad for the next iteration of the internet, the Metaverse, as it goes against the very assertion Meta continues to make that they don’t want to own it. If they own all the major apps and don’t allow indie developers to flourish, it will lead to Meta inevitably owning a large part of the Metaverse, becoming the most powerful organization for the next evolution of the internet.”
Pearlman is not alone in her concerns. Many others have voiced their fears that Meta will be able to use Within’s data to its advantage and further consolidate its position in the VR market in order to create a monopolistic dystopian alternative reality they control.
Stephanie Llamas, founder of Metaverse market research firm VoxPop, said: “If other companies don’t have the ability to compete with Facebook and its cash, it’s effectively giving Facebook the opportunity to create virtual reality on its own. That means With that, we might be missing out on some really cool stuff.”
Let’s make this clear: Meta has always been a company that’s believed in monopolizing its markets. So when the metaverse – the digital world that’s taking the world by storm – came along, Meta knew it had to stake its claim.
They believe that whoever controls the metaverse wins the world. They’re operating under the belief that this is the future, and they’re determined to be the ones who shape it.
For Meta, this poses a real threat. If it can’t monopolize the metaverse, it will lose all its money and power — and they will do anything, ANYTHING to prevent that even if it means destroying everything in the process.
What is your opinion? How can the Metaverse survive Zuckerberg?