Facebook began quietly testing a “metaverse” feature, or an online space in which users can create connections with other people, businesses and organizations.
Gizmodo first spotted the company running the test on March 16, shortly after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal became public. The story described Facebook as being “at a turning point,” in which it could either accept the “perils of modern technology” and “fix the problem,” or end the service.
The feature, first reported by Recode, is part of a major push to make Facebook look and feel less like a public place and more like an established online community or social network.
In testing, the company has said that users can create a “place” – a sort of “haven” – similar to how you might discover a new bookstore on Amazon or visit a temporary museum at the National Gallery of Art.
Those who are creating the space create posts for their business or community, and rate them in several different ways.
If a user simply likes or comments on an item, the person making the space can either share that “like” and ask other users to find it or outright publish it.
If another person offers something positive to say about a business or group, they can also publicly promote that endorsement.
Now, one can move from one space to another, allowing users to “converse” with individuals or groups across similar sites.
It’s a feature that Facebook hasn’t offered before.
The company hasn’t officially commented on the existence of the test – a Facebook spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday afternoon.
Facebook, which was criticized for the lack of controls and security its platform offered over the information that its users shared with advertisers, recently announced it would overhaul how it lets users protect and control their data and posts in the future.
— Joan E. Solsman and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes