Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual reality division may be losing money—but one country is finding the tech useful: Colombia last week became one of the first countries in the world to host a court hearing in Meta’s metaverse. 

Lawmakers in the South American nation held a two-hour hearing using Horizon Workrooms, a Meta platform that allows teams to get together via a virtual workspace. 

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Colombian lawyers put on virtual headsets to take part, and the meeting was live-streamed on YouTube. Those attending appeared in the meeting as computer-generated avatars.

And the hearing—which saw a complainant trying to sue the police—was a success, according to those in the virtual meeting. “The use of information technology in the development of judicial proceedings has the essential purpose of facilitating and expediting these processes [of executing justice],” said María Victoria Quiñones Triana, magistrate of the Magdalena court. 

Though not all those tuned into the streaming thought it was a good idea: some commented that seeing cartoon-like figures was ridiculous. “I feel it takes away from the seriousness [of the case],” remarked one viewer. “If I want to see myself in a dinosaur character, is that also acceptable?”

It was the first time Colombia’s lawmakers held a full virtual hearing—but elsewhere in the world, hearings using Meta’s tech have taken place: local media reported that last September, a Chinese court held a virtual meeting. 

Virtual court hearings—and meetings generally—became the norm in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With governments imposing lockdowns worldwide, professionals switched to the video conferencing Zoom platform to meet, pumping the company's stock and sending its market cap through the roof. 

The sudden overreliance on the technology meant some weird and wacky situations: a Texas lawyer seemingly unaccustomed to using the platform got stuck as a kitten when he couldn’t change a video filter. 

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But an entire meeting held with everyone as cartoonish digital characters is a different story.

Meta, previously known as Facebook, has poured billions into metaverse technology but it hasn’t been a financial success—yet: Its metaverse Reality Labs lost a whopping $4.28 billion in 2022 Q4.  

Despite this, Meta CEO Zuckerberg has pledged more investment into the space. “The two major technological waves driving our roadmap are AI today, and, over the longer term, the metaverse,” he said last month. 

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