In a bad week, Facebook would very much like to change the subject.
To do this, it is reaching out for all of the busy safewords it can get its hands on: the company announced on Thursday a new $ 10 million fund for developers (one of those safewords) to keep the games in its new Metaverse project (this is the second) will be developed.
Facebook unveiled its Virtual Reality Horizon platform in 2020, and in line with CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s desire to focus on VR, it is opening up access to it and inviting game developers to apply for funding.
Back in the real world, Facebook was recently weighed down by a burgeoning scandal caused by whistleblower Frances Haugen. She testified before Congress Tuesday, describing a number of alleged problems at the company, including reluctance to change its algorithm to slow down misinformation and limit Instagram’s negative impact on teenage mental health. She has also shared internal documents that she says support her claims.
Facebook has acted aggressively against Haugen, dismissing its own internal research as invalid and attacking its credibility. That was the job of the company’s PR department and a few select executives. (In a previous Congressional hearing, she dispatched Antigone Davis, her chief of security, to face lawmakers.)
Zuckerberg tried his best to stay out of the fight. (Not always successful – a long post he posted on his Facebook page was largely viewed as deaf.) And he’s tried to keep the company focused on two main efforts this year: keeping influencers on Facebook and Instagram, and new features introduce that will help them make money. (All social media networks are taking similar measures: YouTube, TikTok, and Snap have announced funding programs designed to attract YouTubers as well.)
The other endeavor: expanding its virtual reality initiative. It’s about the idea of the metaverse – an expansive, immersive digital world created by virtual reality – and Zuckerberg has made clear his determination to accelerate Facebook’s VR projects. A month ago, for example, Facebook said its longtime chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer would step down next year, replacing him with longtime close Zuckerberg compatriot Andrew Bosworth, previously tasked with turning the metaverse into a reality for Facebook.