Culture Virtual Reality

What’s on the Horizon? Facebook Horizon.


The drama over Facebook Horizon continues. Horizon is Facebook’s newly announced social VR world. You can theoretically build your own stuff within the world, play games, paint, explore endlessly, and make friends with strangers on the internet.

The question is, why is Facebook’s social VR platform drumming up so much commotion when there are others that have been out there for quite some time? The problem is that social VR is a horrible idea or that it will never work. It’s that Horizon is owned and operated by Facebook.

I don’t understand why people think they’ll be able to create their own customizable avatars when Facebook went with a closed store model. Facebook has a brand image to protect and your pimped out anime girl does not fit that image.

Concierge Service or Facebook Police?

I read in an article from ARS Technica that Facebook will be deploying real humans to meet and great visitors to Facebook Horizon. The author of the article asked “two Facebook representatives about existing social-VR apps like Rec Room and VRChat, which have their own creative, organic approaches to making strangers meet each other in VR.”

Facebook Horizon is about “…making strangers meet each other in VR.”

SAM MACHKOVECH

When I’m out shopping, let’s say for clothes, I dread the salesperson I see meet my eye. They walk over, and we go through the dance of asking if I need help and I say, “no, just looking around”. Even if I’m there for something specific. It’s their job to ask me that but for the most part I don’t want it.

Tech games (I’m throwing social VR in with games) isn’t something you should have to have your hand held through. The internet was built without guides. It was built by people saying, “huh, let’s see what this does”. It’s about using your brain, pressing buttons, and testing the possibilities.

I think that’s why I get so frustrated when I hear an older person say they can’t figure out something on their iPhone. First, it’s an iPhone. You can’t break it. Second, just go for it. Try. Fiddle around with the thing so you aren’t scared of it!

How did the internet go from being an open adventure to a company moderated, dystopian nightmare? #FacebookHorizon

If you need humans greeters to engage with users (after they go through a tutorial) then something is wrong with your system. You built it wrong if it isn’t naturally engaging. If people don’t inherently feel free to explore and test what all the buttons on their controllers can do, you built a crap app.

Aren’t gamers and young people Facebook Horizon’s demographic? Even us older Millennials grew up playing games. We can afford the Quest and we aren’t afraid to dive right in. We don’t want your creepy “Guides” bothering us with how to use Horizon. We want to figure it out ourselves.

Maybe that’s what Facebook is afraid of. Maybe they are deploying guides to make sure we use Horizon in Facebook approved ways. We’re not supposed to use our brains and actually make it what we want. As Curtis Silver from Forbes says of Horizon, “users will surely find a way to quickly create a nightmare world that moderators will be unable to manage.” No doubt this is what Facebook wants to avoid.

In fact Eric Romo, told Ars Technica. “[Guides] are the people who will be trying to set the tone of what the environment is.” Horizon guides are there to “model the behavior”. But they’re not moderators or enforcers of rules.

Horizon‘s VR greeters are “not going to be moderators, they’re not going to be enforcers of rules.” She added that FB will rely largely on built-in blocking and reporting tools to assess whether or how users might be restricted for abusive behavior (and she was careful not to describe any types of Horizon-specific discipline in the works).”

Facebook AR/VR content marketing head Meaghan Fitzgerald
  • Facebook wants you to meet with strangers (which still confuses me after their F8 “the future is private” message).
  • They also want you to behave a certain way.
  • They’ll have Facebook employee “guides” watching everything you do under the guise of a helping hand.

There is still the lingering question of how Facebook will monetize our VR data. As one commentator from the ARS Technica article put it, “we notice that you tend to tilt to the left 15 degrees when using VR. Would you be interested in seeing an ad for Dr. Scholls gel inserts?” – Yes. This exactly.

You tell me. Does Facebook’s social VR stand a chance? Are people too quick to jump the shark on Horizon? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Make sure to check out this post from A Brave New Blog. Ash addresses some great talking points. Like, is Facebook trying to avoid Myspace’s demise with Horizon?

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