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What is the metaverse? Meaning, how Facebook is involved, and how crypto and NFT could power online world

The world’s largest social media network had previously announced it would create a product team to develop metaverse-related projects

Facebook has revealed plans to hire 10,000 people in the European Union to develop a so-called metaverse.

In a blogpost posted on Monday (18 October), Facebook said: "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.”

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The metaverse has previously been praised by Facebook’s co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, hailing the online world as the “next generation of the internet” and the next chapter for the company.

What is a metaverse?

A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment.

The term refers to a cyberspace parallel to physical reality where a community of people can interact in the form of avatars.

This is possible through the merging of physical, augmented, and virtual reality.

Metaverse’s have appeared in slightly different smaller versions in the video game community. The popular shooter and survival game Fortnite has a community of 350 million players all playing within an online community.

The video game took it a step further, hosting virtual concerts by rapper Travis Scott, who appeared as an avatar, and were viewed by 12 million gamers.

It is still unknown how the metaverse will look in the future, but the desire to create an online social community is at the forefront of the plans.

The virtual community could potentially be accessed by VR headsets. Currently VR headsets are primarily used for gaming, but the metaverse could allow for concerts, cinema trips and work to be done through the virtual world.

What is the Facebook metaverse?

Facebook, which is currently the world’s largest social media network, had previously announced it would create a product team to develop metaverse-related projects.

The social media giant has been building virtual reality applications for social hangouts and for the workplace, including several that interact with the real world.

In a Facebook post in July, Zuckerberg said: "I believe the ‘metaverse’ will be the successor to the mobile internet, and creating this product group is the next step in our journey to help build it.”

Speaking to The Verge in July, he also hinted about the company transitioning to a metaverse company. He said: "If we do this well, I think over the next five years or so ... we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a ‘metaverse’ company".

What are NFT’s?

NFT stands for Non-fungible tokens. These are a new type of virtual asset that has helped fuel the growth of the metaverse.

NFT’s can represent an intangible digital asset such as an image, video or in-game item. The buying and selling of NFTs is through the use of cryptocurrencies.

Sales of NFT’s which are recorded on blockchain, surged during the pandemic, with $2.5 billion in sales during the first half of 2021.

The digital assets have become increasingly popular because of the cultural value of some of the products, with people treating the purchases like an investment instead of a one-off purchase.

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