Facebook Announces Beta Launch of ‘Horizon’ VR Social Experience

Being able to interact with co-workers as if they’re right there beside you could have significant benefits – but in order to get to that stage, Facebook needs to normalize virtual social interaction. Which is still some way off, but the launch of Horizon Beta is another key step.

But of course, adding social elements also adds risk, which could be even more concerning in wholly immersive environments.

This is a key element that Facebook will need to manage, and it’s made specific note of this in its announcement:

“You can access a personal Safe Zone through your wrist menu at any time in Horizon. Our research over the past few years has found that when people experience something overwhelming or surprising in VR, they want the option to step away first, and then take action second. Once you’re in your personal Safe Zone, you can mute, block or report people and content around you.”

The next stage of cyberbullying could have major impacts, as the virtual environment will increasingly feel like real life. That could make it harder to escape, so it’s good that Facebook is making this a priority from the get-go. 

That’s also the reason why Facebook recently announced[7] that all Oculus users will soon have to sign-in via Facebook, better linking Facebook’s reporting processes to its VR arm.

It may not seem like a major update at the moment, but the development of VR is a huge shift, and will become increasingly relevant, in many different ways, over the next few years. Whether you get involved now, or wait it out to see what happens, it will be something that you will be looking into at some stage in future. 

That will also mean new opportunities for advertising, marketing, personal branding and related elements. 

Horizon, at least at this stage, looks set to be Facebook’s major social push on this front. It could be worth getting involved now to stay ahead of the game.

The Horizon invite-only beta will be available on Oculus Quest and the Rift Platform in the US and Canada to begin with. You can sign-up to the beta waitlist here[8].

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