As Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FBC) began its F8 developer’s conference in San Francisco Tuesday, the uncomfortable topic of murder clouded the festive ‘what’s next’ atmosphere at that and other social networks.
It was all about the shooting of an elderly man in Cleveland by a suspect who live-streamed the killing on Facebook Live. The video and killer’s Facebook page were eventually removed by Facebook but not until several hours later.
Virtual Reality Versus Actual Reality
The suspect who posted status updates and tagged various friends in them was eventually cornered by police and took his own life. Addressing the incident at F8 Zuckerburg said, “We have a lot of work and we’ll do all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
The shooting raises questions about social media in general and Facebook in particular and the role social media has to play when dealing with both virtual reality and real life events played out on social media platforms.
AR Versus VR
Meanwhile at the F8 conference Zuckerberg suggested that augmented reality might be catching on more quickly than virtual reality, which is where Zuckerberg expected the action to be first.
Augmented reality which mixes the physical and digital worlds is now going to get a push from Facebook as the company makes its AR tools available to third party developers to create custom masks, filters and other types of special effects. Early partners in the venture include Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKEC), Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EAC) and Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE:TWXC) Warner Bros.
Toward An AR Future
Futurists like Zuckerberg see well beyond the filters and masks available on Facebook rival Snapchat. Zuckerberg sees a future where AR will one day replace household objects like a television set with an in expensive app.
Zuckerberg also believes Facebook users will increasingly use their smartphone cameras to interact with the world via AR. The company has tried to help recently by adding such things as a “swipe right” move to open the camera within the Facebook app.
Stories To Tell
All this has led to the addition of a “stories” tool to Messenger, WhatsApp and the photo-sharing app Instagram. The tool allows users to post images and videos that vanish in 24 hours.
The company also bought virtual-reality company Oculus VR for more than $2 billion in 2014. At the time Zuckerberg said VR would become the next major computing platform after mobile devices. The advent and popularity of Pokémon Go, however, has caused a shift in Zuckerberg’s thinking and made augmented reality more prominent in Facebook plans for the future. In an interview he said, “I think VR and AR are two sides of a coin.”