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Building a responsible and empowering metaverse


In recent times many tech companies have been talking about the metaverse. This has prompted questions around what it is and how we can ensure that these new innovations are developed responsibly.

The metaverse is set to succeed the mobile internet.Credit:iStock

The first thing to know about the metaverse is that it doesn’t yet exist. The metaverse is a vision and will be a set of virtual spaces that will allow people to create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you. It will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. At Meta, we believe that the metaverse will be the next evolution of digital platforms – and will be the successor to the mobile internet.

Realistically, the metaverse is at least five to 10 years away but that doesn’t mean we’re waiting to put real guardrails in place to address safety, privacy, and well-being in the metaverse. This is part of our responsible innovation approach. But it’s also important to understand that the metaverse won’t be built by a single company. It will likely consist of many different components and Meta isn’t going to build, own or run the metaverse on its own.

To help bring this to life, we’re collaborating with industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, non-profits and academic institutions all around the world and Australia to think through all of the issues and opportunities in the metaverse.

We’ve already started taking concrete steps to address some of these critical issues. For example, our Quest devices are designed for children ages 13 and up, and some experiences are only for people aged 18 and up. We’re making parental supervision tools available on Quest in the coming months, allowing parents and guardians to be more involved in their teens’ experiences in virtual reality.

In Meta apps like Horizon Worlds and Venues, users can mute, block and report others, and we recently introduced a Personal Boundary to help avoid unwanted interactions. We will continue to make improvements as we learn more about how people interact in these spaces. And as we work with others to build the metaverse, we must also ensure that it is equitable and inclusive so that everyone is able to access it. Finally, we need to look at the economic opportunity and how we can give people more choice, encourage competition and how we can support the next iterations of the digital economy.

Last year, Meta announced the XR Programs and Research Fund, a two-year USD $50 million (approximately AU$65 million) investment into several research programs to help inform us how to build the metaverse responsibly. This year, we’re pleased to announce our first Australian partner, the Australian National University (ANU) School of Cybernetics will receive a research gift in cybernetic systems and the metaverse.

Since the metaverse will impact future generations the most, we also wanted to extend our partnership with PROJECT ROCKIT who serve on our Global Safety Advisory Board, to make sure there is proper and widespread consultation with Australia’s youth. As part of this, we’re providing new funding to PROJECT ROCKIT to consult with a diverse range of young people around Australia so we can take into consideration their thoughts and perspectives when building the metaverse.

While safety and education are key, we also want the metaverse to be for online communities to thrive, and we’re already seeing glimpses of what’s possible with Creators through technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

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