Social Throwback 2022: A year of Web3 updates, creator push & massive layoffs at Meta

Here are the important updates that surrounded Meta in 2022 – this includes a focus on AI with metaverse, increasing importance of creators, and layoffs that impacted nearly 11,000 jobs.

The year-end recap for Meta includes the initiation of the metaverse, significant progress in the field of artificial intelligence, and the launch of new tools for brands, creators, and advertisers.

2022 has particularly been significant for Meta due to a domino effect from the past three years that dramatically changed the landscape of the social media industry. 2020 was the year when all Meta-owned platforms experienced a monumental upsurge in active usage (sponsored by COVID-19). 2021 was the year Facebook turned Meta, and was no longer just a social network, but a social technology company that fuses social and virtual experiences.

Facebook < Meta

In 2021, Facebook was no longer a social media platform, it transformed into a social technology company called Meta that will build a metaverse, the virtual reality world that blends online social experiences with immersive experiences. The rebranding to Meta was announced by Mark Zuckerberg at Connect 2021, an annual conference held by the company. The corporate structure was not changed but Facebook Reality Labs (FRL) has been accounted for as a separate reporting segment, in the quarterly earnings report.

The transformation was initiated with a focus on building the metaverse. Facebook had also announced it would be investing 50 Mn USD in global research and program partners and will be collaborating with industry partners, policymakers, and experts for further development of the metaverse, this was followed by an announcement of specific investments in the EU region.

2022 was the year that the objectives of transforming and rebranding to a new company were realized. Staying dedicated to the metaverse was the primary focus of Meta in 2022. Product updates and resources for brands, creators, and advertisers were continually launched throughout the year, but the initiation and expansion of the metaverse was the highlight of the year.

The Expansion Of Metaverse

Horizon Worlds was first launched in 2020 on an invite-only basis, then in 2021 it was rolled out on a larger scale and was made available US & Canada, available to 18+ users for free. The virtual social experience that lets users discover places, go for adventures, solve interactive puzzles or play games, and have interactive experiences was launched in the UK in 2022, then gradually in Iceland, Ireland, France, and Spain. The platform also allows users to design their own worlds and build a community.

Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Horizon Worlds in France and Spain with an image of his metaverse avatar. He then made another post stating that the earlier version was showcased to announce the launch and was not the final version, and also shared that the graphics would be going through major updates before the full-scale launch.

Drawbacks & Criticism

Zuckerberg was brutally trolled for his metaverse avatar, even being compared to the billion-dollar investment to a 90s game on Nintendo. Users also pointed out that the first view of the metaverse did not live up to the hype. It received tons of criticism and was touted as an amateur rendition that did not need billions of dollars of investment. The rejigged avatar was rolled out following the backlash.

Women’s safety has also been a concern for metaverse users. A female researcher’s virtual avatar was sexually assaulted in the space of Horizon Worlds, where male avatars tried to grope and made lewd comments, according to a BBC report. The researcher was a part of SumOfUs, a corporate accountability group. The news widely surfaced, and several other incidents also came to light. Following this incident, a feature called Personal Boundaries was rolled out, which enables an intangible enclosure that does not allow other users to cross the space.

Downsizing in the tech industry has been hard-hitting news for 2022. 13% of the global workforce laying off 11,000 employees was a significant alteration to the Meta company. In a strive to become a leaner and more efficient company, Meta cut off spending and extended its freeze on hiring, as a part of its efforts to reduce discretionary spending across owned apps and Reality Labs.

Zuckerberg mentioned that his prediction of the inflated usage of social platforms being a permanent change and consequent expansion of the workforce has resulted in mass layoffs. As the rapid growth was short-lived and did not outlast the pandemic, resulting in revenue loss, although the Financial Report of Meta for the third quarter of 2022 highlighted a revenue of 27 Bn USD. Initiated with Twitter, Meta was another one of the biggest contributors to the major lay-offs in the tech industry.

January 2022

  • Next-gen AI to support metaverse is initiated

February 2022

  • ‘Personal Boundary’ for virtual reality platforms is launched
  • Updated 3D Avatars for apps rolled out

March 2022

  • Reduced distribution of videos created with watch-bait tactics such as withholding key information or sensationalizing content, on Meta platforms is announced
  • Meta announces brand suitability updates for advertisers

April 2022

  • Monthly active users on Meta-owned apps reach $3.64 billion
  • A new version (136) of Spark AR Studio is rolled out with capabilities such as depth responsive effects and color overlay to create immersive AR experiences
  • Meta launches monetization tools for Horizon Worlds
  • Users are enabled to share videos directly from third-party apps to Reels
  • Reduced distribution of videos created with watch bait tactics such as withholding key information or sensationalizing content, on Meta platforms is announced
  • Meta enables users to share videos to Facebook Reels from third-party apps directly

May 2022

  • Facebook Graph API v14.0 and Marketing API v14.0 are launched
  • Meta improves transparency on targeting options for political & social discourse ads in 242 countries including India
  • Updated 3D Avatars in India are introduced with the ability for users to dress them up in Indian attire
  • Recurring Notifications enabling businesses to send automated messages introduced on Messenger
  • Parental controls such as content restriction, linked accounts to oversee activity, and lock patterns, are launched on Quest devices
  • Meta Quest v40 software update with app-locking features, support for 3D Secure payments, and optional end-to-end encrypted Messenger calling are launched
  • New ads & messaging tools for small businesses that support lead generation and customer acquisition are launched
  • Monetization opportunities such as expanded overlay ads, Stars on Reels, along with Insights and Challenges to Reels Play made available on Facebook

June 2022

  • Visual-Acoustic Matching, Visually-Informed Dereverberation, and VisualVoice – three new AI models to make sounds more realistic in virtual reality experiences by Meta are launched
  • Meta Pay, a digital wallet and payment system, Community Feedback Policy, and Facebook Stars, a creator monetization tool is rolled out
  • Meta Quest v41 software update is rolled out, which transforms a home into a social hub
  • Meta Avatars Store offering digital outfits from Balenciaga, Prada, and more is launched
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, steps down after a stint of 14 years; Javier Olivan is appointed for the role

July 2022

  • Music Revenue Sharing for creators to monetize their videos is introduced
  • The third-party fact-checking program is expanded in India and NewsMeter is added as a partner
  • Make-A-Scene, an AI research tool designed to transform the text into digital imagery is introduced
  • Meta Quest software update v42 is launched with enhanced VR workouts with progress tracking and new parental controls for supervised VR experiences
  • Horizon profile that no longer requires Facebook accounts to log in to Meta VR devices is rolled out
  • NLLB-200 and AI model that can translate 200 different languages is rolled out

August 2022

  • Meta announced Oculus Rooms API to be deprecated and removed from the list of available Platform APIs for integration
  • A new way to login to VR headsets and Horizon Profiles was rolled out as Meta Accounts
  • Mark Zuckerberg receives tons of criticism for his avatar launch in Horizon Worlds, which was later revamped and relaunched
  • Meta tests storage on Messenger that allows users to store backups of end-to-end encrypted chats
  • BlenderBot 3, a publicly available chatbot complete with model weights, code, datasets, and model cards, released
  • Advertiser Success Center, an end-to-end hub for advertisers launched

September 2022

  • New features for users on Facebook and Instagram to access, create and navigate between multiple accounts is introduced
  • Measurement 360 is introduced, a framework developed by Meta in collaboration with Deloitte to give advertisers a holistic view of the customer journey
  • Ministry of Electronics & IT and Meta came together to launch the MeitY Startup Hub (MSH) program., to support and accelerate XR technology startups across India
  • The PyTorch framework project transitioned to PyTorch Foundation as a part of Linux Foundation, a technology association dedicated to the collaborative development of open-source software
  • Creators of Tomorrow showcase is launched

October 2022

  • A speech-to-speech translation system powered by artificial intelligence is launched
  • Branded Content is enabled for Facebook Reels by Meta globally, with the launch of paid partnership tags
  • Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta Quest Pro, a high-end and advanced VR headset, at the annual Connect conference
  • Meta identified 400 malicious Android & iOS apps stealing Facebook logins
  • New ad formats based on user activity such as time spent on video, messaging, ad, or AI-enhanced experiences, were announced
  • AI model ‘Make-A-Video’ is launched that lets users turn text prompts into brief, high-quality video clips

November 2022

  • 13% of the workforce is fired, laying off over 11,000 employees
  • New tools for creators to earn money on Facebook and Instagram with features like gifting, & Facebook stars are introduced
  • A new API to enable rights holders to report potential violations of their IP rights is launched
  • Meta & Plug and Play announced a global accelerator program