Facebook Owning The Metaverse Poses a Threat to User Privacy by@yahyaibnmohamed

Facebook Owning The Metaverse Poses a Threat to User Privacy

Yahya Mohamed Mao HackerNoon profile picture

Yahya Mohamed Mao

Marketing Specialist, Advisor, Author, Mentor & Speaker

The metaverse is quite possibly the future of the internet. To help our readers learn more about it, we've started this metaverse interview series.

These are the questions we've compiled to ask experts in blockchain, DAOs, NFTs, and game development, within the HackerNoon community. The series is intended for tech professionals to contribute their insights about the current state and the future of the metaverse.

If you too would like to start contributing to Hacker Noon, you can do so here.

If you also want to publish your thoughts about the metaverse, answer the template here.

HackerNoon Prompt: So let’s start! First, tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

My name is Yahya Mohamed Mao and I’m a Marketing Specialist, Author, Advisor and Startup Mentor. As a techthusiast, I love reading and writing about the latest tech trends in different sectors (marketing, fintech, healthcare, IT etc.). My techthusiasm enabled me to establish myself as an expert member and author on various platforms.

Please sum up what the metaverse is in 1 to two paragraphs.

Metaverse (meta + universe) combines technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to generate a sensation of "virtual presence." The Metaverse is a shared virtual 3D world, an interactive, immersive and collaborative world. Just as the physical universe is an accumulation of worlds connected by space, one can conceive of the Metaverse as an accumulation of worlds.

The vision set out in Neal Stephenson's 1992 classic Snow Crash goes beyond single-game video conferencing apps. Massive online social games like the Battle Royale - Juggernaut Fortnite and user-created virtual worlds like Minecraft and Roblox reflect elements of this idea. Video conferencing tools to connect widely dispersed colleagues during the global COVID pandemic are an indication of what is yet to come.

The Metaverse will become a platform not tied to an app or a single location but is both digital and real," said Rev Lebaredian, Nvidia's vice president for simulation technology. "We are talking about creating a reality that is richer than the real world. Virtual places are permanent objects and the identities that move between them allow digital goods and identities to move from one virtual world to another, much like in our augmented reality world.

Are you currently, directly or indirectly, working on building a metaverse?

I’m indirectly involved and as a techthusiast I keep reading and learning about metaverse.

In your opinion, is the metaverse inevitable, or is it just another passing trending tech topic that'll lose hype?

Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its big priorities. The metaverse is extremely promising and not only for the gaming industry. Throughout 2021, the Metaverse is expected to spread in various areas. Education is likely to translate into broader experiences as students learn to transform biology and physics into virtual classrooms through simulations. As more and more games and events are hosted online, companies are striving to create virtual spaces where their employees can interact with each other. Metaverses will become a human co-experience utility when they meet in virtual worlds and not only play games, but also do other things like watch movies and watch user-generated videos.

The use of the term metaverse has become inevitable when dealing with technology and game-related headlines. Several companies have raised significant capital, such as Epic Games, which secured $1 billion for similar ambitions when it declared earlier this year that Fortnite was not a game, but a "metaverse".

Why is the metaverse such a revolutionary concept?

Metaverse is a future vision that sounds so fantastic that tech titans like Facebook are betting that it will be the next big thing in the evolution of the Internet.

Just imagine a world where you can sit on the same couch as a friend who lives thousands of miles away and imagine a virtual version of your work or beach. What sounds today like science fiction was actually written about in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. In his novel, people would make use of virtual reality headsets and interact in a digital world. The book has reached cult status among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs making "metaverse" one of the hottest buzzwords in the technology sector. Companies are already investing millions of dollars into its development. Facebook fueled the excitement by announcing the formation of a new team to work on its vision for the platform.

Metaverse is all about merging the physical world with the digital one. Using augmented reality glasses, you can see information flickering before your eyes as you walk through a city, from traffic and pollution to updates on local history. COVID-19 made video conferencing inevitable but professionals have become tired of virtual meetings. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is excited about the idea of taking colleagues to virtual rooms and making virtual meetings similar to real face-to-face meetings.

Metaverse enthusiasts dream of a future in which technology transports us into digital environments that feel real. This is why I consider the metaverse a revolutionary concept.

What can people build in the metaverse that we can't build on the Internet, or in virtual reality today? What limitations of our current technology does the metaverse free us from?

When Facebook announced it would make building the metaverse one of its big priorities, it also invested heavily in virtual reality through its Oculus headsets. The latter were made cheaper than the ones produced by competitors and it seems that Facebook doesn’t care about not making profit according to some analysts. Facebook is also building VR apps for social hangouts and for the workplace. The possibilities with the metaverse seem endless and there’s not much that cannot be built on the metaverse.

Despite the fact that there are several theories about what the metaverse may be, most visions have social human interaction at their center. Facebook has been experimenting with Workplace, a virtual reality meeting tool, and Horizons, a social area, both of which make use of its virtual avatar technologies. Another VR software, VRChat, is only centered on conversing and hanging out online, with no other objective or purpose but to explore different places and meet new people. Automobile manufacturers may promote a new car model and allow customers with metaverse to test drive their vehicles in real-time. Perhaps you'll try on digital clothes first, then order them to come in the real world when you go online shopping. The Internet role remains digital and virtual and entirely lacking the real feel of interaction. This is something the metaverse can make possible.

The limitations for consumers might be the price for such an advanced and new technology but the more technology progresses the more affordable it will become. The biggest challenge and limitation I see however concerns data and privacy! The granularity of data accessible when consumers engage on these platforms is an order of magnitude more than on-screen-based media, which is one of the reasons why Facebook is so heavily invested in VR/AR. It's no longer just about where I click and what I post; it's also about where I go, how I stand, what I stare at for the longest time, and the tiny ways I move my body and react to particular stimuli. It's a direct line to my psyche, which is gold to a data entrepreneur but quite frightening to users.

How are the metaverse and blockchain related? Can we build a metaverse without blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology promotes the virtual world and is strongly tied to the metaverse. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs allow users to buy and sell these virtual assets online without making physical contact. People tend to make a lot of money doing it, and some enjoy creating their art as an NFT. Also, people use NFT as a ticket for virtual events. Cryptocurrencies have been used for a variety of things, including buying virtual land, creating NFTs, and more. All of these blockchain technologies create a metaverse that can be experienced as an evolution on the Internet.

Metaverse is different from what the Internet offers today. Content is available on today's Internet in the form of applications and websites, for example. Metaverse, on the other hand, is connected worldwide through individual nodes. Therefore, a special platform is not required to access a digital space. Blockchain Metaverse offers a proof of existence for every digital thing.

Many new platforms running on blockchain technology are using NFTs and cryptocurrencies to build, own, and monetize innovative decentralized assets. Before blockchain technology, metaverse was incomplete because everything was stored on a centralized network. Thanks to the ability of the blockchain to function as a digital resource throughout the world where cryptocurrencies allow decentralization.

How quickly do you think the metaverse will be developed? How much can we expect metaverse tech to grow in the next 5 to 10 years?

The metaverse despite being very promising won't be built overnight and not by a single company. Many of these products will be developed in the next 10-15 years. I believe that the next five years will decide who will take over a leading role with Facebook currently leading the market.

What is your hope for the metaverse? Do you have any worries or does the concept pose any threats?

Facebook is interested in the metaverse because it presents a chance to become a tech leader in the coming decades. It appears doubtful that Facebook would change its business model to prioritize user privacy or allow consumers any real input in how their behavioural data in the 'metaverse' is used. The presence of tech behemoths such as Facebook defining and colonizing the area, while traditional governing systems struggle to keep up with technological progress, might exacerbate the problem.

Thanks for your time! Any final words?

No, all good :)

This article is part of The Gaming Metaverse Writing Contest hosted by HackerNoon in partnership with The Sandbox.

Submit your #gaming-metaverse story today for your chance to win up to $2000.


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