Facebook Targets EU Workers to Help Build Metaverse, Bring Social, Economic Opportunities

Facebook announced plans Sunday to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years as it seeks to bring its new "metaverse" computing platform to life, the Associated Press reported.

The company described the venture in a blog post Sunday as a futuristic virtual world that uses augmented and virtual reality to deliver unique social and economic opportunities to users.

The 10,000 workers Facebook plans to hire are meant to help them realize their metaverse goal, Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs, and Javier Olivan, vice president of central products, wrote in the blog post.

"As we begin the journey of bringing the metaverse to life, the need for highly specialized engineers is one of Facebook's most pressing priorities," the blog said.

The metaverse will act as an online platform that millions of people can access in real time using avatars, AP reported. Once inside this virtual world, users can hold virtual meetings and use cryptocurrencies or other means to buy virtual land, clothes and digital assets.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Facebook Planning EU Hiring Spree
Facebook announced plans Sunday to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years as it seeks to bring its new “metaverse” computing platform to life, but the move has raised some concerns over privacy and the hold of social sites on people's lives. Above, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election" on Capitol Hill on November 17, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Hannah McKay/Pool/Getty Images

Facebook executives have been touting the metaverse as the next big thing after the mobile internet, though their track record is spotty on predicting future trends. Expectations that CEO Mark Zuckerberg made four years ago of taking virtual vacations with faraway loved ones via a headset or using a smartphone camera to improve an apartment virtually have not materialized so far.

The company also is contending with antitrust crackdowns, the testimony of whistleblowing former employees and concerns about how it handles vaccine-related and political misinformation.

Facebook's recruiters are targeting Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland for the hiring drive.

The social network isn't the only one working on the metaverse, and Facebook acknowledged that no single company will own and operate it. Other players include Fortnite maker Epic Games, which has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse.

But there are concerns Facebook and a handful of other Silicon Valley giants would end up monopolizing the metaverse and use it to collect and profit from personal data, mirroring the situation now with the internet.

Facebook last month announced a $50 million investment to fund global research and partnerships with civil rights groups, nonprofits, governments and universities to develop products responsibly for the metaverse. But the company added that it would probably take 10 to 15 years to "fully realize" many of those products.

In a separate blog post Sunday, the company defended its approach to combating hate speech, in response to a Wall Street Journal article that examined the company's inability to detect and remove hateful and excessively violent posts.

A British parliamentary committee that's working on legislation to combat online harm is set to hear from two Facebook whistleblowers this week and next. Sophie Zhang, a data scientist who raised the alarm after finding evidence of online political manipulation in countries such as Honduras and Azerbaijan before she was fired, will appear before the committee Monday afternoon.

Next week, the committee will hear from Frances Haugen, who went public with internal Facebook research that she copied before leaving her job earlier this year. Haugen testified before a U.S. Senate panel this month about her accusations Facebook's platforms harm children and incite political violence, and her British appearance will be the start of a tour to meet European lawmakers and regulators.

Facebook Unveils "Metaverse" Plans
Facebook says it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computing platform. The company said in a blog post on October 17, 2021, that the high-skilled workers will help build “the metaverse,” a futuristic notion for connecting people online that uses augmented and virtual reality. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo