It used to be the case that Facebook was rarely out of the news cycle, creating terrible headlines on everything from data privacy to child bride auctions (no, really). The answer to all this negative press? It changed its name to Meta.
Now of course the bad news keeps coming, but journalists need to type slightly fewer letters writing it up. Thanks Zuck!
From empty promises on the Metaverse to bribery court cases, we take a look over the past week at Meta.
The Metaverse Keeps Getting Meta-Worse
1. Quest Pro VR headset announced, adds eye-tracking adverts
This should have been a slam dunk for Meta. The announcement of new VR tech is always exciting, and sure, this one is hugely more expensive than prior models at $1,500, but there's a lot of tech under the hood and it's the most advanced headset the company has made yet.
2. Not even Meta staff own VR headsets
There's no doubt that Zuckerberg is fully invested in the Metaverse, so much so that he encouraged teams at Meta to hold meetings inside Meta's Horizon Workrooms virtual space.
According to the New York Times, this caused ripples of panic across the company, as many teams and employees simply didn't have access to VR headsets (despite the fact that the company makes its own). Headsets were hastily purchased across the company, which at least would have had a positive impact on sales figures, if anyone is looking for a silver lining.
3. Even Meta staff who work on Horizon Worlds don't want to use it
While we know that not many at Meta were logging into Horizon Worlds, it turns out that those that did wished they hadn't. According to an internal memo obtained by The Verge, department leaders have criticised the Horizon Worlds team for not actually using the platform. What's more, the platform is in a ‘quality lockdown' for the rest of the year whilst performance issues are ironed out.
4. Mark Zuckerberg's legs aren't real
This week, Meta announced that the Horizon VR platform would be introducing legs, meaning that users would no longer need to wonder around as a floating torso.
To accompany this announcement, Zuckerberg showed off some moves, including kicking and jumping, so we could see those legs in action. However, the legs may well have been a lie. A Meta spokesperson later qualified that the legs featured animation from motion capture to ‘enable a preview of what's to come', meaning it was more likely a proof of concept that a real time demo.
Exits and Layoffs at Meta
5. Top product designer leaves Meta
On October 13th, it was announced that Vice President Margaret Stewart would be leaving the company after ten years. Stewart had previously overseen the Response Innovation team, which was responsible for identifying potential harmful elements in products before release, though this arm of the company was dissolved earlier in the year. In a post, Stewart stated she was sad to be leaving the company.
6. Meta Rescinds job offers to overseas candidates
The tech job market is tough at the moment. We're seeing more and more layoffs in the industry, so the engineering candidates who recently landed jobs with Meta must have been over the moon. The roles, based in London, had been targeted at overseas candidates.
However, before anyone could start their new jobs, Meta recruiters canceled them, after the successful engineers had already quit their existing jobs and made plans to uproot their lives to move to England.
7. Potentially 12,000 jobs being cut from Meta
Layoffs in tech are big news right now, but not all are approaching it in the same way. Mark Zuckerberg has already talked about the need to tighten belts and has issued a hiring freeze, but now it looks as though job cuts could be on the table too.
According to reports, Zuckerberg has tasked directors with putting at least 15% of their teams on performance improvement plans, with those unlucky enough to be named being given 30 days to find a new role in the company.
Legal Cases and Acquisition Issues
8. Meta executives ‘accidentally' named in OnlyFans bribery lawsuit
In February, Meta employees were named in a lawsuit against the company of having taken bribes to promote adult site OnlyFans, whilst at the same time blacklisting other adult-orientated sites. The suit claims that databases ordinarily intended to identify safety threats had instead been used to assure that OnlyFans competitors got fewer clicks.
In documents provided this week to the court, these executives were named in full, when they should have been retracted, They include Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global policy, as well as Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of the global business team.
9. Meta has had to file to repeal FTC acquisition block
Meta has had to file a request to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission's denial of its attempt to acquire Within, a VR fitness start up.
The FTC argued that the acquisition would have a negative impact on competition, though Meta disagree, stating that “The FTC's attempt to fix its ill-conceived complaint still ignores the facts and the law and relies on pure speculation of a hypothetical future state.”