Opinion: The metaverse is not just a bad idea, it is also absolutely terrifying!

By Danny Franklin
November 22nd, 2021

You may have heard all the latest stories about the metaverse, with the likes of Facebook’s parent company even changing its name to Meta. There is a huge push for all things meta but at what cost? Facebook hasn’t exactly got the best track record for protecting people’s privacy and now they want to create a whole new world you can “live” in. This will be a great place for them to track everything you do in much more detail than ever before. It will no longer matter that they lost so much money from Apple’s App Tracking Transparency because you won’t need phones in the metaverse.

The metaverse portrayed by code projected over a woman.

Privacy and the metaverse

Meta is definitely not well known for its best privacy practices. In fact, it could be argued that Meta is one of the worst companies out there in terms of privacy. The scary practices that Meta constantly carry out through the likes of ad tracking during the usage of Facebook, Instagram, or any of their other owned companies is often forgotten. It is important not to forget that this is going on, nor accept it, when Facebook want to create their own “online world”.

The metaverse will be a new world. It will have its own currency, places to live and so on. It will be like the real world, only it will be fully controlled by major corporations. There will be no consistent laws and a poor chance of safeguarding vulnerable people. Meta struggle to moderate content that is inappropriate on its various platforms already without creating a world where this kind of content could easily flow through. This platform could easily connect young adults and children with anyone in the world – breaking down traditional barriers that would have protected them. Can we really trust Meta to create a safe world? Are Meta even creating safe platforms now?

“There’s no way that a regulator or policymaker should be allowing Facebook to operate there [in the metaverse] or get into cryptocurrencies…”

Roger McNamee (speaking to the BBC)

Everything you do in Meta’s metaverse could easily be tracked. This means that everything you say, do, watch, look at and so much more could easily be tracked. This is a huge gold mine for Meta. They were recently held back by Apple’s App Tracking Transparency measures, it turns out that when given the choice, most people choose not to be tracked. This has been costly for companies that make a business out of tracking users. We have seen just how costly that is with the combined loss of around $10 billion from the biggest platforms (source: The Verge). That shows just how valuable this data is. Imagine if Meta could listen in to your conversations, they could know what you wanted to buy in the real world, then they could continually show you ads throughout your real-world and metaverse life. This is not a future I would like.

How does law affect the metaverse?

There will be many issues when it comes down to laws and the metaverse. Not only will there be issues with safeguarding vulnerable people and children. There will be issues with censorship in different countries, with different laws in different countries, and with different countries wanting different things. But, how does the law and the metaverse work? Do all countries and lawmakers just sit back and let a corporation be in full control of a “new world”? I cannot foresee a future where countries do not get involved in the legality of the metaverse. So, how will the metaverse be policed?

A metaverse is likely to use its own cryptocurrency that would run on a blockchain network too. Should a corporation be trusted with this? With corruption from different governments around the world we can already see that even the most trusted, cannot be fully trusted. I definitely wouldn’t trust a cryptocurrency owned by Meta.

Conclusion

The metaverse is a scary prospect. If done correctly, it could be a place to hangout with friends and socialise with people from other countries. If done incorrectly, this could be the most frightening development in technology ever. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

© Danny Franklin 2017 - 2022