Facebook has announced a massive recruitment drive in the EU, with plans to hire 10,000 people in the next five years to help build its ‘metaverse,’ an interconnected virtual world where people would play, work and shop.
“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 US tech giant said in a blog post on Sunday. The EU is the perfect place to look for such skilled employees, as “European talent is world-leading,” it added.
“Europe is hugely important to Facebook,” the company insisted, saying that it’s going to work with governments within the bloc to “find the right people and the right markets to take this forward.”
The recruitment drive is going to focus on such countries as Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and Ireland. Those hired will be tasked with developing what Facebook calls “a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first shared his vision of the ‘metaverse’ in July. It is set to become a digital world where multiple people will be able to perform various interactions with each other in a fully 3D environment.
Shortly after that, the company unveiled its Horizon Workrooms virtual reality app for colleagues to hold work meetings in VR, describing it as the first step toward the ‘metaverse.’
Facebook isn’t the only major player in the tech market looking to create its version of a metaverse, with similar projects pursued by Microsoft, Roblox, Epic Games and other companies.
In its blogpost, Facebook also underlined the important role played by the EU in “shaping the new rules of the internet.”
In an apparent attempt to sweet-talk Brussels, the company praised the bloc for “leading the way in helping to embed European values like free expression, privacy, transparency and the rights of individuals into the day-to-day workings of the internet,” and insisted that it “shares these values.”
Facebook has been facing increasing criticism in the EU in recent years. Regulators claim it has a monopolistic business model and mishandles the private data of its users – and they are trying hard to make the tech giant abide by the bloc’s legislation. The US company even threatened to leave the EU altogether last year if restrictions were enforced against it.
The EU lawmakers have also been calling on Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to appear before the European Parliament in November.
Earlier this month, Haugen, who used to be a product manager with the company, testified before a US Senate subcommittee, blaming Facebook for not doing enough to tackle harmful content and putting profit above the well-being of its users. Zuckerberg turned down those claims as a “false narrative.”
The Wall Street Journal has recently come up with a series of investigative reports about the platform’s practices, revealing that Facebook allegedly allowed high-profile users to violate the social network’s rules, and arguing that the company had done internal research that found Instagram to be damaging to the metal health of teenage girls.
The latest WSJ piece on Sunday claimed that Facebook’s own engineers doubted the ability of the platform’s artificial intelligence to police harmful content.