At Meta, Everything Old Is New Again

At Meta, Everything Old Is New Again

Meta is going back to basics. The company with some of the world’s top engineering talent in the world (though staff numbers have taken a hit as of late) and tens of billions in quarterly revenue has figured out that social features present since the long-defunct AIM and in some of the earliest multiplayer games could be useful in today’s “Metaverse”-obsessed world.

On Tuesday, Meta shared that the latest update to Horizon World will include a “World Chat” feature. Essentially, it’s akin to a chat function available in every multiplayer game since online video games became popular. Users can now communicate while in the same world session. Unfortunately for those relatively few active Horizon Worlds users, the feature will see a limited release to a small number of individuals but it should be more widely available over time.

Users can click on other users’ names or @mention them while in a session and invite them to a private or group chat. Horizon Worlds has had problems with harassment, and Meta said it will automatically delete any messages that violate its rules. While Meta is at it, maybe the company will finally add those legs to its still-awkward avatars it promised would be available last October.

Users can also change the settings to ensure that people who aren’t their friends won’t be able to see their chats, and that feature is automatically applied to users aged 13 through 17. You can also hide or minimise the chat window. That may be an important feature, as several congresspeople have recently demanded that Meta restrict young people from jumping into its shared VR experience over harassment concerns.

On Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also announced on his Instagram channel that Instagram Notes — the strange hybrid Twitter/Snapchat-like feature released last year that lets users post short, disappearing messages to followers — will let users leave an away status that includes what music they’ve been listening to lately.

Mark Zuckerberg shared this image saying that Notes will now show how he's gotten into Miley Cyrus 'thanks to my daughters.' (Image: Meta)
Mark Zuckerberg shared this image saying that Notes will now show how he’s gotten into Miley Cyrus ‘thanks to my daughters.’ (Image: Meta)

Previously, users could only share an away message that included text and emojis. As reported by TechCrunch, the new version of the Instagram Notes’ away message can share moods and even a 30-second clip of a song they were listening to recently. For anybody above a certain age, it’s a feature very reminiscent of the days of MySpace and AIM, though, unlike AOL’s old instant messenger, you can post the song and a link to the music rather than just the title and artist.

Meta has long been the kind of company to steal ideas from its contemporaries. Instagram is already working on a Twitter clone that could launch as soon as this month. This “Threads” app would essentially expand Instagram’s account system into a board for posting short-form microblogs. Leaked images from a recent meeting indicate Meta wants a platform that is “sanely run” compared to Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s hot mess approach to app development.

Hey, these updates are nice features to have, if not, in many ways, long overdue. Those with speech issues should absolutely have a way to communicate with people in Horizon Worlds, and it’s pretty wild it took Meta this long to introduce a chat feature. And hell, why can’t we have more simple ways to share our music taste with friends? It’s not like the days of early social media were at all wholesome, but they did far more emphasise the “social” end of the stick, rather than the media.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.