The Future of Sharing on Facebook: Virtual Reality, Messenger as Platform

The future of Facebook communication: spherical video, virtual reality — and cute puppy GIFs.

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In the early days of Facebook, when it was still a network for college students, communication was primarily via text (and the odd thrown sheep via SuperPoke).

Over the next few years, communication on Facebook has evolved to include photo and video. The next step? Virtual reality.

In front of a packed house for Facebook’s f8 Developers Conference at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined the future of communication on the site — one that includes virtual reality, talking with brands directly for customer service and faster sending of custom GIFs.

Zuckerberg described the progression he sees, going from text to virtual reality:

If you look back at Facebook five years ago, most of the content that people shared was text — status updates and wall posts. Now, it’s photos. If you fast-forward five years, it’s going to be video. If you look even further beyond that, it’s probably going to be more immersive content like VR and AR.

That term — immersive content — was a theme of the keynote portion of f8. Zuckerberg said that soon, spherical video would come to the Facebook News Feed.

A quick teaser showing spherical video, coming to News Feed. We’ll have more info and #F8 coverage soon.

Posted by SocialTimes Social Network News on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This sheds some light on the Oculus VR acquisition, which many questioned at the time.

Here’s a quick look at other kinds of immersive content Facebook announced at f8:

  • Messenger Partners: Facebook has opened the Messenger platform, so now people can quickly create a video with JibJab or a GIF with Giphy or ESPN and quickly share it with a friend. More than 40 apps are launch partners.
  • Businesses on Messenger: Now, when you order a product through certain retailers, you can be updated on shipping via Messenger.
  • Updated sharing: Facebook knows that often, when people share something through the site, they really only want a specific group of people to see the post. Facebook is simplifying and enhancing the selection process for users.

Facebook wants to create a richer sharing experience within its walls, knowing that now, that includes Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and many others. As Zuckerberg has said repeatedly, Facebook’s goal is to connect the world — even if the connection is over cat GIFs.

Photo by Praneendra Kuver.