IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Meta's stock is plunging — but don't hate. Regulate.

Dunking on Meta over its falling stock prices shows a dangerous misunderstanding of Mark Zuckerberg's desire for domination.


A lot of people online are having fun at Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s expense, clowning him for the company’s recent plunge in stock price. 

According to CNBC, Meta’s stock price plunged 23% as of Thursday morning, falling to its lowest price since 2016. (To put this in perspective, the company value is currently listed at a "mere" $269 billion).  

Don’t get so confident Zuckerberg’s plan will fail that you neglect to think about what happens if it doesn’t.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has gone all-in on its mission to become the most dominant player in the virtual reality space, pouring billions of dollars into developing its Oculus headset. 

Meta, the name created for the apps and technologies company last year, is a testament to this commitment: a reference to the virtual world — the “metaverse” — accessible through this headset. It all sounds so … Jetsonian. And particularly to those who don’t obsess over this technology and its implications, it sounds surreal. 

But I do obsess over this technology, and I have a warning for all of us when it comes to Meta’s seeming plunge: Don’t hate; regulate. By which I mean: Don’t get so confident Zuckerberg’s plan will fail that you neglect to think about what happens if it doesn’t. 

Like with social media, we need policies to protect the VR space from abuse and manipulation. Not just clever tweets. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more eager than me to dunk on Zuckerberg. But I think many of the people spiking the football over his obsession with the metaverse are exaggerating when they frame it as an outright calamity. In fact, my deep distrust of Zuckerberg, coupled with my knowledge of what augmented reality and VR technology can do, is what’s making me view Meta’s mission differently than others. 

Through a strictly capitalist lens, the immediate drop in stock price is worrying. Having as much money as possible is good for business. 

But if you think of what Meta is doing as building a social weapon of sorts, rather than merely a business, the losses in the immediate term may make more sense. There are, after all, countries happily spending billions in an effort to develop a nuclear weapon — with no immediate returns on investment. Because with that weapon comes influence. 

I’m not saying Meta is North Korea or Iran. I’m saying Meta is a vessel capable of destruction — regardless of its intentionsand, for that reason, wielding tremendous power over the world. 

I’ve been pretty open about my views on this in the past: Meta is obsessive about VR with hopes of cornering the market on an increasingly useful technology. In fact, even as Meta’s stock price plummeted Wednesday, another report seemed to show great promise for the company. 

A Wall Street Journal article reporting on Microsoft’s struggle to gain a foothold in the VR space — which is dominated by Meta’s Oculus for reasons I’ve explained here — showed the power Zuckerberg’s company has already amassed in this space. 

Microsoft has struggled to build hype around its own headset. So it’s ceding ground to Meta. 

According to the Journal:

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it will make its software products available on Meta’s Quest headsets. Some in the industry saw the move as a bet that Meta will have more luck building hardware for the metaverse.

Some people have dunked on Meta and questioned the focus on VR on grounds that it’s inconceivable as a product for everyday people. “I’ll never wear VR glasses,” they say from the World Wide Web, another platform people once vowed never to use. 

For what it's worth, I suspect more and more gamers will flock to this virtual world, a phenomenon that should concern us on its own

But the Journal article makes clear this technology isn’t just going to be used by consumers — it’ll be used by militaries and other large entities, too.  

“Microsoft shelved a planned new version and has struggled to meet technical requirements for its biggest buyer, the U.S. Army,” the Journal notes.

So, just to be clear: Microsoft tried to build a virtual world for the U.S. military. It couldn’t. Microsoft found someone who does this stuff better: Meta.

This isn’t to say all of the business Microsoft sought in this space will go to Meta, but there’s clearly momentum. And if you’re spending more time dunking on Meta than sounding the alarm about its increasing power in the world of VR, I beg you to reconsider your priorities.