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US to investigate Meta for strategies to eliminate competitors in new “metaverse” business

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a group of states initiated an investigation into the Oculus business unit of Meta, Facebook’s parent company.

Fox News reported the allegations under which it decided to investigate Oculus indicate that Meta is using its dominance in the virtual reality market to suppress competition, 

Meta bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion and today functions as an integral unit for the company’s “metaverse”–based business model.

Facebook, now known as Meta, has faced scrutiny on Capitol Hill for years, with executives, including Zuckerberg, repeatedly grilled in congressional hearings. 

This new investigation adds to others in development that aim to achieve this in 2022 to establish greater regulation over Big Tech, especially giants like Meta, Twitter, and Google.

Separately, last week, a federal judge said the FTC could move forward with a lawsuit seeking to split up Meta after the company argued that the suit should be dismissed.

Recent revelations by the former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen, including the hundreds of internal documents she leaked, have galvanized bipartisan support for new legislation related to online child protection. 

But the likelihood of success for many other Meta-related proposals is more complex because of the company’s immense lobbying power and the significant interests that would be affected.

Despite their agreement that something must be done to address Big Tech’s dominance and regulate the activities of giants like Meta, Democrats, and Republicans are divided over the nature of the core problem.

Republicans indict Facebook for its anti-conservative bias, while Democrats worry that it is not doing enough to protect against hate speech, misinformation, and other problematic content.

Reality would seem to show that lawmakers are one step behind. While they are trying to regulate social networking activity, Meta is already developing a new interaction system based on the Metaverse. It plans to break away from the “traditional” concept of virtuality to something much more developed and interactive that would break the current rules at the root.

Facebook changed its company’s name to Meta at the end of last year, precisely to make way for the “metaverse,” which was defined by its founder Mark Zuckerberg as “the next generation of the Internet.”

“It’s the future we’re working towards. A virtual environment where you can be present with people in a digital space. An embodied Internet where you’re inside,” Zuckerberg said in defining the new format of virtuality.

Using technical language, Zuckerberg essentially described the Metaverse as “an immersive virtual world,” much like today’s virtual reality, but where people spend time together and share experiences from all aspects of their lives, wrapping a digital frame around people’s real lives.

According to The Verge, the technology leap is the driving force behind the name change, as the company will focus on building a “Metaverse” as the cornerstone of a new growth strategy. Oculus products would be an essential product in the Metaverse.

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