Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people in the next five years in the European Union to work on the "metaverse", the parallel digital world which is the holy grail of Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and boss of the American social networking giant.

"This investment is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent," Briton Nick Clegg and Spaniard Javier Olivan said in a blog post on Monday (October 18th). senior managers of the group, which today has more than 63,000 employees.

No precise details are given on the countries where the future jobs will be located, nor on the type of job concerned.

“The need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook's most pressing priorities,” they are content to point out.

The dream of a "metaverse"

The "metaverse", a contraction of the meta-universe ("metaverse" in English), is a kind of digital lining of the physical world, accessible via the Internet.

Thanks in particular to virtual and augmented reality, it should make it possible to increase human interactions, freeing them from physical constraints, via the Internet.

It could for example offer the possibility of dancing in a nightclub with people located thousands of kilometers away, but also to buy or sell digital goods or services, many of which have yet to be invented.

“The essential quality of the metaverse will be the presence - the feeling of really being there with people,” Mark Zuckerberg explained in July on his Facebook profile.

It is not just about creating "a great new experience", but also "an economic wave that could create opportunities for people all over the world", he also explained in a video interview during the Vivatech fair in June. 

Facebook's announcement comes against a backdrop of strain for the California-based company, which needs to restore its image as it is regularly accused of ignoring the negative social impacts of its activities.

The last salvo came in early October from whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, who accuses the American group of pushing adolescents to use its platforms more and more, at the risk of causing addiction.

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In their message, Nick Clegg and Javier Olivan pay tribute to the role played by Europe in regulating Internet excesses.

"European decision-makers are leading the way in helping to integrate European values ​​such as freedom of expression, privacy, transparency and the rights of individuals into the daily functioning of the Internet", they stress.

Europe "has an important role to play in shaping new Internet rules", they stress.

"No company will own the metaverse"

They also repeat that Facebook does not seek, with the "metaverse", to build a new closed universe, like its social network.

"No company will own or operate the metaverse," they say. 

"Like the Internet, its main feature will be its openness and interoperability. To bring it to life, collaboration and cooperation will be necessary between companies, developers, creators and policy makers," they say.

Facebook is already one of the world leaders in virtual reality with its Oculus headset, from the company of the same name bought in 2014 for $ 2 billion. 

In September, Facebook announced that it had appointed Andrew Bosworth, head of Facebook Reality Labs, and as such one of its "metaverse" specialists, to the post of technological director.

The American giant is not the only one to bet on this virtual world. 

Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, has indicated that part of the billion dollars raised this year from institutional investors, including Sony, would be devoted to the "metaverse".

On Decentraland, an online platform considered to be one of the precursors of the "metaverse", it is now possible to land a job as a dealer in a virtual casino.

With AFP

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Keywords: facebook, people, metaverse, investment, need, world, company, jobs, mark zuckerberg, managers, group, european union, frances haugen, javier olivan, presence