Metaverse is hyped by some and criticized by others. Various experts see problematic aspects in Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse vision and have some warnings about the plans of extending reality with augmented reality elements; there is now criticism for this aspect of Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse plans.
Mark Zuckerberg is not only relying heavily on a very specific idea with the name change of his social media group , but also with increased involvement in the AR and VR area : the Metaverse . The Facebook founder is not alone in this. Companies like Tencent have also presented their plans for a virtual future in recent weeks, and Barbados recently announced that they want to open the first digital embassy in the Metaverse in 2022.
Metaverse as a danger? That’s what critics say
But not all share the Metaverse euphoria of Zuckerberg and Co. Several experts have expressed concerns about Meta’s plans to Business Insider. Ethan Zuckerman, who designed a metaverse back in the 1990s, is also critical of Zuckerberg’s ambitions.
The fear: previously known negative effects and weaknesses of social media platforms could be carried over to the metaverse. The phenomenon that the newsfeeds of all social media users already differ according to their preferences would in the future be transferred to the real world through additional digital elements – and could be significantly controlled by Metaverse managers, advertisers and other parties.
Metaverse criticism: “Tailor-made realities” as the cause of increasing polarization
The world will “feel like Harry Potter” with increasing, highly developed AR elements, says Louis Rosenberg, describing the technologically exciting aspects that are currently emerging in the course of the Metaverse conception . Rosenberg himself is the founder of Unanimous AI, a company that deals with the algorithm-based strengthening of the swarm intelligence of human groups; and he, too, warns of the effects of Zuckerberg’s Metaverse draft.
The fact that algorithms reduce people’s digital horizons to small, unconsciously assembled filter bubbles is not a new concept. Reinforcing one’s own opinion through the display of more and more adapted content is already the subject of numerous research projects.
A metaverse based on the designs of Mark Zuckerberg , which is not limited to digital space, would, according to the critics, go a decisive step further than previous platforms: The differentiation between information from digital space and one’s own real life is likely to become even more difficult, the boundaries between both become more and more blurred. “Instead of just being in our own information bubbles, we are divided into our own tailor-made realities,” says Rosenberg. He fears a further increase in political polarization.
Facebook’s Metaverse Draft: “People Should Be Worried”
Shawn Frayne, who heads the hologram startup Looking Glass Factory, also spoke to Business Insider about the enormous efforts of Meta, formerly Facebook, in the area of the Metaverse. “People should be concerned”. Internal reports and critics had repeatedly pointed out various negative influences of the company in the past . “If you think Facebook on your phone was bad for democracy, imagine that your entire field of vision is controlled by such a company.”
Ethan Zuckerman fears that Meta will also transfer the already existing problems with the regulation of content to the in-house Metaverse draft. He wrote a kind of open letter in The Atlantic in late October entitled “Hey, Facebook, I Made a Metaverse 27 Years Ago” . It says: “How will a company that can only block six percent of Arabic-language hateful content deal with dangerous utterances when worn on an avatar’s T-shirt or shown at the end of a virtual fireworks display?”
In addition to the intensification of negative effects that are currently already known from social media, and new questions when dealing with critical content, Rosenberg also predicts massive changes in the advertising market. Product placements and advertising discussions that are inserted into a person’s regular processes via simulation could fit seamlessly into the overall picture.
Overall, in his opinion, the dangers posed by the Metaverse should significantly outweigh its advantages, said Rosenberg. However, this realization will not change much – he considers the development towards the metaverse to be inevitable.
What then does it take to make the concept as unharmful as possible for the user? According to the experts, there is clear regulation. However, it is still unclear who is the decisive authority for this – after all, according to the definition, the metaverse should be limitless.