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Facebook Plans to Hire 10,000 New Staff to Work on the Metaverse

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Facebook is taking its next steps towards becoming a ‘metaverse company’ with a new plan to hire 10,000 new staff to work on its metaverse project. Also important, these new staff will all be based in Europe.

As explained by Facebook:

“Today, we’re announcing a plan to create 10,000 new high-skilled jobs within the European Union (EU) over the next five years. This investment is a vote of confidence in the strength of the European tech industry and the potential of European tech talent.

The new hiring push will see Facebook significantly expand its operations in the EU, as it works to build its metaverse elements. Which are not entirely clear as yet, but Facebook sees the evolving metaverse concept as a key opportunity for it to connect its social, AR and VR tools on another level, and move with the next key stage of digital connection.

The metaverse, in a basic sense, is a virtual world, or worlds, where users will be able to interact with each other using digital depictions of themselves, or character avatars. The idea is that the metaverse will replicate real life in many ways, within a fluid, interactive digital space, where people will be able to socialize, play games, shop, work, etc. Basically, any interaction that you can conduct in real life you’ll theoretically be able to conduct in the metaverse as well, with the additional capacity to use digital elements to expand your communication in the space.

Which many businesses have been building towards for years, but the evolution of VR, and the expanded WFH shift, sparked by the pandemic, have now made it a much more realistic concept, and something that more people can and will be looking to utilize in the near future.

How exactly the metaverse, in itself, takes shape is not clear, but as noted, given Facebook’s investment in several key elements of the concept, it’s no surprise to see The Social Network looking to become a foundational element of the broader metaverse infrastructure.

Though as Facebook notes:

“No one company will own and operate the metaverse. Like the internet, its key feature will be its openness and interoperability. Bringing this to life will take collaboration and cooperation across companies, developers, creators and policymakers.”

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That feels a little like a ‘yeah, but’ type statement, like Facebook is saying that no one company can own the metaverse, but it kind of still thinks it probably can, at least to a significant degree.

The decision to base these new staff in Europe, specifically, is of particular note given the company’s various ongoing challenges in the region.

Facebook is constantly working with European regulators, on various fronts, to ensure that it meets the region’s evolving standards on data privacy, consumer protection, antitrust and more. Earlier this year, various European-based groups launched the first stages of legal action against Facebook for past data leaks, which they’re now able to initiate as part of Europe’s GDPR rules, while Facebook’s also facing several antitrust probes in the region, as well as investigations into how it uses data to target ads, and how it protects (or doesn’t) younger users.

Given the scope of regulatory and legal challenges that Facebook’s facing, it makes sense for the company to increase its contribution to the EU economy, as a means to gain more leverage, and potential leniency, in such considerations.

That, of course, is the skeptical view – for its part, Facebook says that:

European companies are at the cutting edge of several fields, whether it’s the German biotech helping to develop the first-ever MRNA vaccine or the coalition of European neo-banks leading the future of finance. Spain is seeing record levels of investment into startups solving everything from online grocery delivery to neuroelectronics, while Sweden is on its way to becoming the world’s first cashless society by 2023.

Theoretically, both can be true, but it is interesting to see Facebook announce this type of investment into a specific region for a specialized tech project.

Either way, Facebook’s metaverse plans are moving forward, and while we won’t know for some time what specific form this element will take, it should help to secure Facebook’s future in the next stage.

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Ahead of World Cup, influencer ‘Mr Q’ lifts veil on Qatar

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Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar

Khalifa Al Haroon, known to his followers as Mr Q, has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil on World Cup host Qatar – Copyright AFP KARIM JAAFAR

Raphaelle Peltier

At a time when prickly questions are being asked about Qatar and its hosting of the World Cup, Khalifa Al Haroon offers a smile, a sigh and a shrug as he seeks to explain its mysteries.

Known to his growing number of followers as Mr Q, the 38-year-old has become a social media hit by partially lifting the veil over the tiny but mega-rich Gulf state that describes itself as a “conservative” Islamic country.

The first World Cup in an Arab nation has put a spotlight on Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers, gender rights and even the use of air conditioning in stadiums.

Haroon’s cheerful #QTip videos broach everything from saying “Hello” in Arabic to the right way for men to wear the flowing ghutra headdress. There is also an edition on labour rights.

With less than 60 days to the November 20 start of the tournament, he now has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 115,000 on YouTube. And the numbers keep growing.

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Qatar has dozens of online influencers on topics ranging from “modest” but expensive fashion, to the latest sports car being imported into what is now one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

Haroon carved out his niche by elucidating Qatar’s unknowns to its growing expat community — and now the hordes of football fans expected for the World Cup.

Haroon — who was born to a Qatari father and British mother and spent 16 years in Bahrain — said he was first confronted by global stereotypes about Qatar and the Middle East while studying for a law degree in Britain.

He had wanted to become an actor, but instead launched his social media presence in 2008 with a blog.

“I was in the perfect position because I was a Qatari who has never lived properly in Qatar,” he said.

– ‘Trust your own eyes’ –

“In essence, I was like a foreigner in my own country and so I had the same questions that foreigners did, and so it just made it easy for me to start putting together information.”

Haroon said there has to be a distinction between “negative news” and misinformation about his country.

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“When it comes to fake news, obviously, I think everybody understands that it’s not true and so the only thing that I could do is show people videos and pictures and show them what we’re really like because you can trust your own eyes.”

Some people, he said, have told him they decided to move to Qatar after watching his videos.

Haroon, who is now a consultant to the Qatar Football Association and an eSports entrepreneur, said he is excited about the World Cup “because people can now come here and experience it for themselves and make their own judgements instead of just believing what’s written”.

His main grouse is how outsiders see something negative about Qatar and then believe that all Qataris “accept it or we all agree with it”.

Many supporters of the 31 foreign countries who will play in Qatar have raised concerns, however, about the welcome awaiting them. Can they drink? And what will happen to same-sex couples in a country where homosexuality is illegal?

The government has insisted that beer, normally restricted, will be available and that everyone is welcome. Haroon wants outsiders to experience “real Qatari hospitality”, with its food and coffee culture.

“Of course there are going to be certain social norms,” said Haroon. “What we are asking for is just respect the country. And of course the country will definitely be respecting everyone that comes.”

“Some people might make mistakes because they don’t know what the rules are and that’s OK,” he added.

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“The point is our culture is all about intention, our religion is about intention, so as long as you have good intentions and you want to do the right thing, you have nothing to worry about.”

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