The Metaverse: Innovation begins with collaboration

Simon Milner, VP of Public Policy, APAC

In the two decades since the mainstream adoption of the internet, a lot has changed, both in terms of technological trends and advancement and how people use online services in their lives.

One of the most significant changes in the last decade is how mobile networks and smart devices have fundamentally altered the way we use the internet. Over the next decade, we will experience another fundamental shift with the journey toward the metaverse.

The metaverse will involve a move away from the traditional online world of flat screens filled with text and images, and move towards immersive experiences akin to the way we interact offline – more physical, interactive, and speech-based.

The metaverse will consist of a set of digital spaces, including immersive 3D experiences, that are interconnected. The defining quality of the metaverse will be a feeling of presence—like you are right there with other people or in another place. Like the internet today, it won't be a single product like Facebook or Instagram, or a piece of hardware like the iPhone. And like the internet, it won’t be created or owned by any individual company.

While the fully developed metaverse is still five to ten years away, we can already use bridging technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and devices like the Oculus Quest 2 that give us a sense of what is to come.

We’re already starting to see the capabilities of using VR in the offline world. When the pandemic prevented APEC delegations from being physically present in New Zealand in 2021, we partnered with a coalition of Māori digital creatives and designers, to develop the immersive ‘Ngā Atua Māori’ AR experience. This enabled delegates to learn more about te ao Māori as if they were in Aotearoa New Zealand in person.

I attended NZTech’s Responsible Innovation in the Metaverse panel session and shared the stage with Lee Timutimu (pictured below) who led this project with his company, Arataki Systems, and it was inspiring to hear about the development process and how this project was brought to life.

As an industry, we know the full benefits of the metaverse are still to be discovered. Part of building the metaverse will include the need for frameworks, guidelines, and transparent conversations with governments and safety organisations about how to innovate responsibly.

To start, we’re collaborating with industry partners, including Netsafe in New Zealand, to think through all of the potential issues and opportunities in the metaverse. Last week, we announced our work with the broader technology industry, NZTech, and Netsafe, to launch a New Zealand-first online safety regulatory framework that will help keep the digital world safer now. This collaborative approach will continue to be important as we prepare for the future.

We’re already creating and developing guardrails to address safety, privacy, and well-being in the metaverse. For example, our Quest 2 devices are designed for children ages 13 and up, and some experiences are only for people aged 18 and up. We've also started rolling out parental supervision tools on Quest, allowing parents and guardians to be more involved in their teens’ experiences in virtual reality.

We believe immersive learning has the power to dramatically improve the quality of education while bringing a new level of excitement to learning and allowing students to experience new things that seem worlds away. While safety and education are key, we also want the metaverse to be a place for online communities to thrive, and we’re already seeing glimpses of what’s possible through such technologies.

AR and VR can provide new and more immersive ways to access the past and present, as well as visualise the future. In one inspiring example, the Antarctic Heritage Trust captured Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut at Scott Base in VR, allowing students to interact with this unique piece of New Zealand’s history.

For people considering a career in law enforcement, the “VirtualCop” VR app offers a window into life on the beat, allowing users to investigate crime scenes and work with the community. Developed by Wellington creative agency Wrestler, led by Kat Lintott, who also shared the NZTech Connect stage on Tuesday, “VirtualCop” illustrates how VR/AR can design everyday experiences.

Building the metaverse responsibly will be a collective task that will require collaboration with government, researchers, and industry peers. Our partnership with NZTech is an important part of our efforts to ensure we're engaging in thoughtful debates on this topic. We‘re excited about the future of the metaverse, and our work with our Kiwi partners will aim to uphold responsible innovation as we work to build the metaverse together.

This post has been adapted from the New Zealand Herald, posted 26 July 2022.

Meta announces successful publishers in News Audience Development Accelerator

Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy, Meta New Zealand and Pacific Islands  – February 2, 2022

 

Today, we are pleased to announce the 13 New Zealand news publishers joining Meta’s Aotearoa Audience Development Accelerator, that will also be eligible for grant funding at the conclusion of the Accelerator training program.

This Accelerator will invest in public-interest journalism, and support Māori, regional, digital and diverse media newsrooms, through training, coaching and mentoring in digital strategies. The 13 publishers were selected, based on eligibility criteria, by Meta’s Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group. The Group was developed in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and includes a panel of five, independent industry experts with a diversity of experience to provide guidance on the selection of Accelerator participants and grant ideas, along with input from the Meta News Partnerships team.

The Group includes:

  • Scotty Morrison (media personality, academic and te Karere presenter )
  • Khairiah Rahman (media academic and member of the Pacific Media Centre at AUT)
  • Rick Neville (industry expert former regional editor at NZME)
  • Hal Crawford (media commentator and former MediaWorks News Director)
  • Brodie Kane (media personality and award-winning journalist)

The Audience Development Accelerator is built to provide support in two key ways: through the training program with expert coaches and the attached grant fund, which will allow publishers to invest in strategies from the Accelerator program.

The Audience Development Accelerator will see 13 New Zealand publishers onboard to a 10-week digital strategy training and mentoring program hosted by expert coaches to help participants optimise their audience. Training will support publishers to develop strategies from increasing their reach to growing new audiences, deepening engagement with existing audiences and generating new paying supporters, depending on the publisher’s needs. The program is platform agnostic, focusing on digital strategies and the digital transition to support sustainable newsrooms.

Following the completion of the Accelerator program, publishers will be eligible to apply for grant funding, provided by Meta and distributed by the International Center for Journalists, to apply the lessons learned in the program over the following three months.

The 13 New Zealand news publishers joining Meta’s Aotearoa Audience Development Accelerator include:

This announcement today further outlines our investments in the Aotearoa news ecosystem to drive a more diverse, pluralistic and sustainable media sector, while encouraging a digital transition for publishers. You can read more about the recipients and the program in full detail here.

A commitment to support the sustainability of New Zealand newsrooms

Andrew Hunter, News Partnerships Lead for Meta Australia & New Zealand – November 3, 2021

 

Meta is committed to supporting quality journalism. While news is a small part of the experience of most Kiwis on our platforms, including Facebook, we recognise that we can play a role in helping New Zealand’s news industry thrive in a changing digital world.

The New Zealand Government’s Public Interest Journalism Fund aims to preserve and enhance public interest journalism. We share the government’s commitment and believe by helping publishers reach people through free distribution, and investing in free tools and programs specifically designed to help build audiences and revenue, we can support sustainable business models for the long term.

Today we’re furthering our investments in the local news ecosystem to drive greater and more diverse plurality in the sector, while encouraging a digital transition that is key to sustainability.

Our four-part investment is designed specifically for Aotearoa New Zealand and tailored to support the local industry, especially regional, digital and culturally-diverse publications. Our investments include:

  1. Supporting local publishers develop sustainable business models through our Accelerator and Grant Fund;
  2. Establishing a Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group;
  3. Investing in video and content innovation with Kiwi publishers;
  4. Dedicated training for Kiwi publishers on growing and engaging digital audiences.

Building the digital capacity of local publishers

We are launching our first Audience Development Accelerator Program + Grant Funding Program in New Zealand. The Accelerator will bring 12 publishers from regional, digital and culturally-diverse publications together to innovate, learn from experts, and collaborate on new strategies to improve their business both on and off Facebook.

Funded and organised by the Facebook Journalism Project, and tailored to New Zealand’s media industry, the Accelerator will be led by Blue Engine Collaborative — a consortium of mission-driven consultants and advisors focused on driving digital audience growth and revenue, founded by Tim Griggs, a former New York Times executive.

The program is built on three key areas of collaboration and investment — expert workshops, dedicated coaching, and associated grant funding for participating publishers to adopt new initiatives using the lessons gained from the Accelerator. Grants will be provided through the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

“Newsroom leaders across the world are finding ways to better serve their audiences and boost revenue, and we are committed to supporting those efforts,” said Johanna Carrillo, ICFJ’s vice president of programs. “We’re excited to now support New Zealand publishers as they work to build more sustainable news outlets in the public interest.”

This follows previous accelerator programs Meta has funded for New Zealand publishers including the our Reader Revenue Program that helped publishers increase revenue through audience and subscription programs. Overall, these publishers generated $7 million in lifetime value, 24,000 new subscribers and 160,000 new loyal readers.

Launching Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group

In partnership with ICFJ, we’re establishing the Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group — a group of five experts across New Zealand’s media industry, including Te Karere presenter, Scotty Morrison; AUT University communications academic, Khairiah Rhaman; former editorial director – NZ Newspaper Publishers’ Assoc. and media expert, Rick Neville; media consultant and former MediaWorks News Director, Hal Crawford; and award-winning journalist and business owner, Brodie Kane.

We will work with the Meta Aotearoa News Innovation Advisory Group to provide guidance on the Accelerator and grant program.

Investing in video and content innovation with Kiwi publishers

Publishers control what they choose to share on Facebook, and in turn, we provide tools they can use – many free of charge – to distribute their content, grow their audience and make money.

In 2020 alone, Facebook sent around 180 billion clicks to news publishers around the world — worth approximately $9 billion USD ($12.5 billion NZD) to publishers. We’ve also created a number of ad formats such as in-stream and pre-roll ads in video, that help publishers make money from audiences on Facebook.

Kiwi publishers are also beginning to experiment with new approaches to fund the important work they do for their communities. To support this work, we’re exploring additional investments in innovation, video and technology to promote newsroom sustainability in New Zealand.

Launching Facebook News Day to engage with Kiwi publishers on sustainable business models

We’re hosting our first virtual Facebook News Day in New Zealand on Friday, 26 November 2021 to provide scaled and dedicated coaching to newsrooms across New Zealand.

Facebook News Day is designed to equip publishers with tools and insights to build, engage and understand their audiences, drive additional revenue and optimise for long-term digital business transformation and innovation.

All newsrooms across New Zealand are invited to attend Facebook News Day by registering at https://aotearoanz.fb.com/newsday/. Registrations close on Monday 22 November 2021.

Climate Science Information Centre Expands to New Zealand and Pacific Islands

Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy (New Zealand and Pacific Islands) – November 2, 2021

 

Aotearoa New Zealand and many Pacific Island nations have shown global leadership to introduce measures to help tackle Climate change. In the Pacific, we know that many nations are heavily impacted by the effects of a changing climate. Like many Governments, organisations and citizens in our region, we’re committed to helping tackle this challenge. Today, at GOP26, we are announcing the expansion of the Climate Science Information Centre in 100 new countries, including New Zealand and in Pacific Islands nations (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu).

Established in 2020 in conjunction with the IPCC, the Centre will connect people with resources from internationally recognised climate organisations NZ Climate Change Research Institute at the Victoria University of Wellington, Ministry for the Environment, Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development and the Palau International Coral Reef Centre.

As a global business that connects more than 3 billion people every month, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to make a real difference. Today’s announcement includes a range of initiatives to tackle climate change, both within our own business and on our platforms. You can read more about  these initiatives in this newsroom post from Nick Clegg, VP, Global Affairs & Communications.

Rotorua para-swimmer features in Facebook global film series celebrating aspiring paralympians and the 15% of people living with a disability

Nick McDonnell - Head of Public Policy, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – August 20, 2021

 

#WeThe15 is a global human rights movement representing the world’s 1.2 billion people with disabilities – some 15% of the world’s population. To support our paralympians Facebook has worked with the International Paralympic Committee to launch a film series that explores how sport is creating a positive change for disabled communities around the globe and how our services are enabling communities to grow and come together to have real-world impact.

We visit the Te Arawa Swimming Club, an inclusive, community-run club in Rotorua, who believe that swimming should be accessible to all. We meet Siobhan Terry, an aspiring Kiwi paralympian, who has used swimming and the opportunities the Te Arawa swimming club has offered her, to not only coach other new recruits, but has become an ambassador for para-swimming and hopes to compete in the 2024 Paralympic Games.

“Para sport has enormous value in transforming lives, and this video series showcases that beautifully. A truly inclusive New Zealand means all Kiwis have the chance to participate in sport and be recognised for their achievements. This video series helps to challenge the perception of disability and will encourage disabled Kiwis to get involved in Para sport,” says Fiona Allan, Chief Executive, Paralympics New Zealand.

The other groups featured in the series include an all amputee football team in Brazil, wheelchair basketballers in the UK  and an inclusive surf club in the US.

We’re proud these amazing stories can be shared and that aspiring paralympians and disabled athletes from so many different codes are using our services to build community, share their passions and are taking these online connections into real world success stories.

You can see more about our work in accessibility here or visit our Facebook page.

Celebrating Matariki 2021 on Facebook and Instagram

Mia Garlick, Director of Public Policy Australia & New Zealand – June 21, 2021

 

To celebrate Matariki, we are launching a series of new digital activations to promote a deeper understanding of the significance of Matariki and how the period can be celebrated throughout Aotearoa. We were privileged to work alongside Mahi Tahi Media and Professor Rangi Matamua to bring these digital activations to our platforms in a meaningful way and we are proud to be able to share them with the Facebook and Instagram community.

Firstly, we have launched five Matariki-inspired GIFs (available to use here) that you can use across a range of digital platforms. “Matariki is about coming together with loved ones, remembering those who have passed in the previous year and welcoming in the new year. The GIFs show the Matariki stars rising to mark the dawn of a new year, families sharing kai, and rangatahi remembering elders who have gone before them. The GIFs include representations of Mānawatia a Matariki, which means Celebrating Matariki, and Kua Wheturangihia koe which means you have now become a star,” says Te Arahi Maipi, CEO, Mahi Tahi Media.

             

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Secondly, we have launched two Facebook profile frames (available here by searching ‘Celebrate Matariki 2021’ or ‘Mānawatia a Matariki’).

      

 

We have also launched a calendar showcasing what 12 Māori content creators and business owners are doing to celebrate this period on and offline. Follow the calendar to hear personal stories about Matariki, pick up ideas for seasonal food preparation and planting, learn te reo Māori phrases, and even find markets and concerts.

               

Professor Matamua will appear in a live panel on 5th July on Facebook App NZ, hosted by Te Arahi Maipi, CEO of Mahi Tahi Media, and two content creators from our Matariki calendar to discuss what Matariki means to them and how they will celebrate this period.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Matariki 2021! Mānawatia a Matariki!

Teaming up with the University of Auckland to support a new Information Governance course

Nick McDonnell, Head of Public Policy (New Zealand and Pacific Islands) – July 9, 2021

 

As the opportunities of data and information flows grows for society, so does the complexity of the challenges associated with how this ever increasing volume of data is managed and governed. Over the last two years in particular as the world has grappled with COVID-19 and more rapidly digitised, there has been a sharp increase in demand globally for information governance roles such as privacy officers, compliance officers and data protection professionals – across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors

Facebook is excited to be partnering with the University of Auckland’s Department of Commercial Law to provide two academic prizes as part of the University’s new programme of study in Information Governance.

The Facebook Scholarship in Information Governance will be provided to cover tuition fees for a Postgraduate Certificate in Information Governance. Applications are now open for this course beginning in September, and students from communities underrepresented in data and technology fields, including Māori and Pasifika students, are particularly encouraged to apply.

In addition, we’ll be awarding the Facebook Prize in Artificial Intelligence Regulation to this paper’s top student.

Technology and data offers significant economic opportunities for the New Zealand economy and needs to be underpinned by talented professionals schooled in the ethics and benefits of this growing field. We’re happy to support that next generation of Kiwi data privacy and information governance professionals.

“I welcome the new programme and am grateful for the corporate sponsorship of prizes and scholarships. The attendance of both the regulator and private and public sector stakeholders at the symposium is testament to the central role played by data in today’s economy,” says Professor Susan Watson, Dean of the Business School at the University of Auckland.

For more information or to apply, visit https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/study/study-options/find-a-study-option/information-governance/postgraduate.html.

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