Following reports of Facebook's supposed plan of rebranding itself, the term "metaverse" quickly became a buzzword in big tech.

What exactly is the metaverse?

The metaverse, short for "meta-universe," is a digital world in which the real and virtual collide in a science fiction concept that allows individuals to roam between devices and communicate in a virtual reality.

It refers to augmented and virtual reality products and services in practical terms.

Facebook announced in a blog post on Monday that it plans to hire 10,000 workers across Europe to help construct the metaverse.

Neal Stephenson coined the term in his 1992 science fiction novel "Snow Crash." It refers to the integration of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in an unified online space.

Some video game communities, such as Roblox (a platform that features a plethora of games developed by children and teenagers) and Fortnite (a shooter and survival game that boasts 350 million players), have already built embryos of meta-universes.

The metaverse, according to enthusiasts, is the next step in the evolution of the internet.

People currently communicate with one another online via visiting websites such as social media platforms or messaging apps. The metaverse's concept is that it will establish new online places in which people may interact in more multi-dimensional ways, allowing users to immerse themselves in digital content rather than just watching it.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be to credit for the increased interest in the metaverse. As more individuals work and go to school online, there has been a rise in the desire for technologies that make online contact more lifelike.

Facebook, the world's most popular social media platform, has substantially invested in virtual reality and augmented reality, acquiring gear like the Oculus VR headset and developing AR glasses and wristband technology.

It has also acquired a number of virtual reality game companies, including BigBox VR. According to The Information in March, it has roughly 10,000 employees working on virtual reality.

Zuckerberg has said that he believes it is sensible to spend heavily in the development of what he believes will be the next powerful computer platform.

"I believe the 'metaverse' will be the successor to the mobile internet, and creating this product group is the next step in our journey to help build it," he said in a Facebook post.

"If we do this well, I think over the next five years or so ... we will effectively transition from people seeing us as primarily being a social media company to being a 'metaverse' company," Zuckerberg told The Verge in July.

For the time being, everything is in its infancy. The evolution of the metaverse - if it happens at all - will be fought for the next decade, if not longer, among tech behemoths.