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Facebook Updates Oculus Quest Controls, Adding New Menu Options and 2D Multi-Window Support

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With the COVID-19 lockdowns forcing all of us indoors, could they also be the trigger that sparks expanded use of VR, and engaging with others in virtual environments?

Facebook sees VR as “the next computing platform“, and given the medium’s immersive capacity, and its ability to facilitate expanded engagement, beyond your regular social apps, it’s not hard to imagine that more people will be looking VRs way, and considering what it could mean for their own usage. The economic impact of COVID-19 will also reduce discretionary spending, which could equally slow VR’s momentum. But VR is advancing as a platform – and it could be closer to crossing a key consumer threshold than many think.

This week, Facebook has announced a new update for its Oculus Quest system, including a redesigned menu system, new control overlays, and multi-window support for 2D apps, starting with Oculus Browser.

Oculus Quest menu

Oculus Quest is an all-in-one VR unit, incorporating full VR capacity without the need for wires and connection to an external source.

The new control systems in Quest will make it easier for users to switch between VR environments and 2D apps, while also staying connected with others in the VR space. Worth noting here, too, that earlier this month, Facebook began user testing of its new ‘Horizon’ VR social platform, where users will engage with each other within simulated worlds​

“Our new design organizes information more clearly to help you navigate to commonly-used system apps like Explore, Store, Browser, and TV more quickly, as well as access key settings like brightness and volume. It also rings your recently and frequently used apps front and center so it’s easy to jump back into the action.”

Maybe most interestingly, given the current situation, is the support for multiple windows within VR, “so you can multitask to get more done and stay connected”.

Oculus VR mutitask

I mean, that looks better than my actual WFH set up – and you’ll be able to switch from this straight into VR, and engage with friends in the virtual environment.

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It’s interesting to consider what the development of VR means, with respect to the future of how we connect, beyond just playing games and looking at cartoonish avatars in generated worlds. As noted, the COVID-19 shutdowns have shown that many of us can, in fact, operate from home – but you will miss out on the social aspects, of just catching up with friends and workmates, and being able to talk to each other face-to-face.

Video chat apps are on the rise to stand-in for this – but maybe, soon, you’ll simply meet-up in VR, and defeat some bad guys in your lunch break, while also staying in touch with friends. Maybe, the current lockdowns are the first step to a broader work from home shift, and that, then, will provide a key stepping stone straight into VR as the next major evolution. 

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There are still significant impediments to broader VR adoption, and it remains to be seen what the full impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be. But it’s definitely something that you want to keep an eye on, as the opportunities VR will open up could be significant.  

You can read more about the latest updates for the Oculus Quest system here.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Twitter Implements New Rules to Further Restrict Misinformation in Times of Crisis

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Twitter Implements New Rules to Further Restrict Misinformation in Times of Crisis

Twitter’s looking to do more to limit the spread of harmful misinformation via its platform, with the implementation of a new policy that will specifically restrict the amplification of misinformation in times of crisis, including armed conflict, civil unrest and more.

The policy has been developed in response to the invasion of Ukraine, with Twitter now looking to enshrine its Ukraine policies in its official guidelines.

As explained by Twitter:  

Around the world, people use Twitter to find reliable information in real time. During periods of crisis – such as situations of armed conflict, public health emergencies, and large-scale natural disasters – access to credible, authoritative information and resources is all the more critical.”

In these circumstances, Twitter will now work faster to hide potentially harmful claims behind a warning screen, while such claims also won’t be amplified in the Home timeline, Search, and/or Explore.

As you can see here, users will be required to click through the warning notice to view these tweets, while Likes, Retweets, and Shares will be disabled. 

Expanding on this, Twitter says that it will also prioritize adding warning notices to highly visible Tweets and Tweets from high profile accounts, ‘such as state-affiliated media accounts, verified, official government accounts.’ The new policy will only relate to situations in which there is a /widespread threat to life, physical safety, health, or basic subsistence’.

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So how will Twitter determine what’s true or false in rapid time?

Twitter says that it will verify information via credible, publicly available sources, ‘including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more’. 

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Sure, that should appease the free speech advocates who already feel that social platforms base their decisions on political agendas. Wonder what Elon thinks of this?

In principle, of course, Twitter’s policy makes perfect sense – harmful misinformation and propaganda can have damaging impacts, in many ways, and it shouldn’t allow such to be amplified via its app. That’s ramped up even further in times of crisis.

In conflicts of the past, military opponents have resorted to air drops of flyers to break the spirit of their opponents. Tweets, and social media posts in general, can serve the same purpose, which is why it’s important for Twitter to act.

But further moves to restrict speech, of any kind, will undoubtedly be met with criticism.

Twitter says that, under this new policy, it will add warning notices to

  • False coverage or event reporting, or information that mischaracterizes conditions on the ground as a conflict evolves
  • False allegations regarding use of force, incursions on territorial sovereignty, or around the use of weapons
  • Demonstrably false or misleading allegations of war crimes or mass atrocities against specific populations
  • False information regarding international community response, sanctions, defensive actions, or humanitarian operations

It could be a difficult policy to enforce, depending on the conflict and region, so while it is a good update, and again, one that makes sense, it may be perceived as biased by those restricted as a result.

And it does seem that it could, at some stage, backfire, with correct information hidden due to the platform’s rapid action – but then again, that may be worth the risk if it ends up saving lives in the majority.

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But you do have to wonder what incoming CEO and owner Elon Musk thinks of such. Musk has been a vocal advocate of free speech, and this seems to be skirting the line of what Musk may see as overstepping. We’ll find out once the deal goes through.

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Twitter says that this first iteration of its updated policy is focused on international armed conflict, starting with the war in Ukraine, but it will eventually be expanded to include additional forms of crisis.

“The policy will supplement our existing work deployed during other global crises, such as in AfghanistanEthiopia, and India.

Again, it’ll be interesting to see what Musk thinks, and whether this policy is fully enacted in the Elon era for the app.

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