Facebook Sets up Fund to “Responsibly” Build the Metaverse

Facebook logo in white text on the side of a building with a sky backdrop

Facebook has announced a $50 million investment towards responsibly building their metaverse. It defines the metaverse as “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”

Facebook describes its investment as a starting point for the long road ahead. The fund is officially called the XR Programs and Research Fund. The company aims to work with policymakers, experts, and industry partners to bring the metaverse to life.

Currently, Facebook’s biggest metaverse program is a platform called Horizon Workrooms, which allows people to have VR meetings. The open beta version of the Workrooms is available for free on Oculus Quest 2.

What Is The Metaverse?

On Monday, September 27, Facebook announced a 2-year $50 million investment fund towards responsibly building the metaverse. It describes the metaverse as a set of virtual spaces where one can “hang out with friends, work, play, learn, shop, create, and more.”

Facebook added that the metaverse is not a single product that a company can build alone. In fact, the metaverse is a long-term project, and many of its products will be built out over the next 10-15 years to complement it.

The aim of the company’s fund is to get the ball rolling on building the metaverse, and to “ask the difficult questions about how they should be built.”

How Does Facebook Plan to Build the Metaverse?

The company highlighted its intention to work with “experts in government, industry, and academia” to analyze the risks and opportunities in the metaverse. Facebook believes that the metaverse’s success “depends on building robust interoperability across services, so different companies’ experiences can work together.”

It also stressed that the technologies must be inclusive and empowering. To do so, human rights and civil rights communities need to be involved from the start.

Facebook’s XR Programs and Research Fund

Facebook’s fund, officially called the XR Programs and Research Fund is a $50 million investment over 2 years in programs and external research. It describes the fund as a starting point in the long road ahead.

The company has identified a few key areas where it plans to work with other stakeholders. These include:

  • Economic Opportunity
  • Privacy
  • Safety and Integrity
  • Equity and Inclusion

Through its fund, the social media company aims to collaborate with stakeholders to determine how to build these technologies responsibly. The stakeholders include industry partners, civil rights groups, governments, nonprofits, and academic institutions.

It also listed out a few of its initial partners, which include organizations such as Women in Immersive Tech, Africa No Filter, Electric South, and the Organization of American States.

The company plans to facilitate independent external research with reputed academic institutions. These include the Seoul National University and the University of Hong Kong, which will look into safety, ethics, and responsible design. Other institutional partners include Howard University, and the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and the Law.

Technology policy researcher
Prateek is a technology policy researcher with a background in law. His areas of interest include data protection, privacy, digital currencies, and digital literacy. Outside of his research interests, Prateek is an avid reader and is engaged in projects on sustainable farming practices in India.