You know it. I know it. Your racist aunt/uncle at Thanksgiving probably knows it too much. You know the one.
The name “FaceBook” has become ever-more entrenched in our society as a company known for its unethical practices, questionable data-mining policies, and algorithms that push fringe extremist content, much to the chagrin of its founder Mark Zuckerberg. With scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica incident and almost-yearly data hacks, it became evident that the company needed a rebranding, and fast.
What is Meta? It’s FaceBook, but with that cartoon disguise that most people (I would hope) can see through, and the latest of Zuck’s plans to ditch the company’s dark past and usher in a brand new, fresh image (that will probably only last a year or so).
Along with this rebranding initiative, CEO Mark Zuckerberg also planned to pivot the company’s future towards an ambitious new project: The Metaverse.
For the uninitiated, the Metaverse is a theoretical service the exists solely online, in this case on FaceBook’s servers, where you can experience a tightly knit collection of interconnected services, akin to the real world, but fully digital – for a price, of course. Technology in the fields of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Simulation have been progressing rapidly year by year, and it is evident that FaceBook not only wants a share of the pie – they want a large cut of it. But why is this bad?
Aside from the dystopian undertones and easily implemented full-scale surveillance that having an entirely digital world entails, FaceBook is not a company exactly known for being above-the-board in any of their practices – whether it be ethics, security, or even just providing what they say they do.
I mean seriously, do you really want FaceBook to be the one managing your personal information?
Even if you have full confidence that FaceBook is actually capable of managing their cyber security infrastructure, can you really trust them with your data in the first place?
FaceBook has a history of misusing and collecting data on its users without permission, and even acting as a data broker, so can you really be certain that the information you provide to them will be used for your best interests? Definitely not.
Finally, what issues does the Metaverse really solve? Ignoring the fact that we do not have the sufficient technology for such a project just yet, in the case that we get a “true” metaverse, what can a metaverse provide that the real world cannot? Since the Metaverse is in theory a digital remake of the real world, is there any reason we really need to have one, when we can barely manage the one we already have as is? And do you really want that world to be maintained by FaceBook of all companies?
This is not permission for you to think about building Bezos-World either, Jeff. Let’s take care of the issues we already have in the real world first.
(Though the concept of a Metaverse is indeed very exciting from a technological point of view, I’ll admit that.)