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Meta Expands Horizon Worlds Access to VR Users in the UK

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Meta Expands Horizon Worlds Access to VR Users in the UK

Of all of Meta’s current offerings, its ‘Horizon Worlds’ VR creation platform provides the most indicative view of its future metaverse plans.

And starting this week, more people will be able to share in that vision, with Horizon Worlds being launched to users in the UK, in addition to the US and Canada.

As shown in the video above, Horizon Worlds enables users to create their own virtual spaces, with a range of 3D objects and tools that they can use to build interactive environments.

Meta launched Horizon Worlds with all users in the US and Canada in December, and it’s now expanding that to the UK, before opening up access to all EU users in the coming months.

As per Meta:

From the very beginning, we’ve envisioned Horizon Worlds as a creator-friendly VR environment featuring top tier social world-building tools. And by developing those tools and listening to and incorporating feedback from creators, that’s just what it is. But we’re always working to make it even better. For example, last month we launched our first asset library, a collection of pre-made items that creators can use any time they want. Plus, we’ve also committed $10 million USD to help creators get their worlds off the ground.

The asset library will play a big part in the next stage of the metaverse, with Meta looking to help brands build 3D models of their products, for improved eCommerce display, which can then also be made available in Horizon Worlds for usage in user projects.

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That will provide new promotional opportunities in this emerging digital space, which, as noted, gives us the clearest indicator of what the metaverse will be like, in Meta’s current vision at least, as a consumer tool.

We’ve already seen some indications of the marketing implications in this respect, with brands like Wendy’s creating their own, branded environments in Horizon Worlds, inviting users to come and engage with their virtual products and activations.

That, again, is where the metaverse is headed, with individuals and brands alike able to create Minecraft-like interactive spaces, where users can be fully immersed in VR – or potentially via other means as well – into their creations.

Though it’s fairly basic right now, in its early stages of its development. Eventually, as Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown, the metaverse will incorporate a wide range of fully-immersive and interactive environments, that will enable you to create and explore all manner of new worlds, beyond anything that you’ve ever experienced.

We’re not close to that yet, in terms of fully functional, interactive, avatar-led engagement in these VR worlds. But eventually, that’s where Meta is headed, and if you wanted to get a taste of what’s coming, and what Meta views as the next evolution for brand Pages, Horizon Worlds is your best current indicator on this front.

But VR engagement also opens up new forms for harassment and abuse, in an even more enclosed and immersive space. Which is another element that Meta needs to address.

On this front, Meta has also announced the addition of ‘Voice Mode’ in VR, which will enable users to choose if they want to hear other users speaking within he VR environment.

Meta safety in VR

As explained by Meta:

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“[Voice mode] will allow you to choose how you hear people who aren’t on your friends list, including the option to not hear unwanted conversations at all. By default, you’ll hear all nearby users at the same volume, but with Voice Mode, you can easily switch to Garbled Voices, in which non-friends’ voices come across as unintelligible, friendly sounds.

As shown in the above image, when a user selects ‘Garbled Voices’, strangers will see an indicator that you can’t hear them in the space. Users will be able to change this setting at any time, but it provides another safety measure to help protect users in VR, where already there have been some disturbing instances of abuse, even in its early, rudimentary state.

Late last year, a beta tester for Horizon Worlds reported that she had been groped by a stranger in VR, while another experienced ‘gang rape’ by male users in the space, which she described as feeling ‘very real’.

Those incidents prompted Meta to add a new ‘personal boundary’ feature, which enables users to keep others at a distance from their avatar.

Meta’s also now added new pop-up warnings which are displayed to people who behave disruptively in the VR space.

Meta VR warnings

So there are measures in place to mitigate the risks, to some degree. But it does seem like this could become a far bigger concern for the platform moving forward, and one that Meta needs to ensure is fully addressed before implementing a broader roll-out of its metaverse push.

Will that actually happen? Meta doesn’t exactly have the best history in regards to addressing potential problems like this before they become bigger concerns, and it would surprise no one if Meta pushed ahead with the expansion of its metaverse vision over anything else, including the safety of users.

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Which, in some ways, seems to be already happening, with the expansion of Horizon Worlds to the next stage – though Meta will be hoping that its developing safety tools will be enough to provide adequate protection for users in the virtual space.

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Interest in leaving Twitter grows as Musk’s grip tightens

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Twitter is changing under new owner Elon Musk

Twitter is changing under new owner Elon Musk – Copyright AFP/File Ben STANSALL

Analysis of Google Trends data reveals that web search trends for ‘Delete Twitter Account’ in the U.S. grew 335 percent on 1st week of November, 2022, around the same day when Elon Musk officially bought Twitter for $44 billion. Atypical for a takeover on this scale, the process was played out in public.

Many of the concerns are connected with the apparent right-wing shift in terms of the social media platform’s ethos that is being constructed as the result of Musk’s acquisition.

This finding came from a business-to-business networking site called SeeBiz. The company also saw a major increase in Google web search trends for other variations like “deactivate twitter”, “delete twitter”, “how to deactivate twitter”, “deactivate twitter account” etc. All the search term variations related to delete twitter are following same increasing trend as per the Google.

Elon Musk dubbed himself ‘Chief Twit’ in his Twitter profile and listed his location as the company’s San Francisco headquarters, as the deadline nears for him to complete his buyout. – Copyright AFP Hector RETAMAL

According to Richard Seymour writing in The Guardian, Musk has not purchased Twitter as the outcome of sound business analysis. Instead, this is part of political project and the consequences are unlikely to be positive. Seymour writes that Musk: “Notoriously rules by fear, breaking the law, busting unions and firing employees who criticise him. He appears to want to establish the same pattern at Twitter, based on his apparently unassailable conviction that he knows best.”

The chaos surrounding Elon Musk and his Twitter takeover seems to have upset a lot of the social media platform’s user base. Similar increase in trend these terms was also seen in the last week of April 2022, when Twitter initially announced that it had come to an agreement with Elon Musk.

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Analysis was also performed on the same trend in Google search volume as well:

Keywords and phrases Jul-22 Aug-22 Sep-22 Oct-22 Increase %
delete twitter account 60,500 60,500 49,500 110,000 94%
deactivate twitter 4,400 4,400 3,600 8,100 96%
delete twitter 5,400 5,400 4,400 12,100 139%
how to delete twitter 6,600 6,600 3,600 6,600 18%
how to deactivate twitter 3,600 2,900 2,900 5,400 72%
deactivate twitter account 1,600 1,600 1,300 2,900 93%
how to delete your twitter account 2,400 2,400 1,900 3,600 61%
how to delete twitter account permanently 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,900 90%
how to delete my twitter account 1,600 1,300 1,300 3,600 157%
how do I delete my twitter account 1,900 1,900 1,600 8,100 350%

In the U.S., the reaction to the buyout has been split along partisan lines, with praise for Musk’s planned reforms and vision for the company, particularly his calls for greater free speech coming from those of a conservative leaning. In contrast, Musk has received harsh criticism over fears of a potential rise in misinformation, disinformation, harassment, and hate speech on the platform, from those of a liberal or social democratic persuasion.

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