Metawers: Mark Zuckerberg's brave new world

Mark Zuckerberg is trying to create his own metaverse, which would result in even more centralisation, leading to a dystopian future.

If Facebook had turned out to be human, where would he/she/they be now? Most likely in prison... for a very long time. The company's transgressions are too numerous to list. But Facebook is not a person; it is a company, and a very profitable one at that. In fact, it is now one of the most profitable companies in the world. Facebook's market capitalisation recently surpassed the $1 trillion mark.

When we think of Facebook - or more specifically Facebook Inc. - we usually think of the social media platform, which is somewhat outdated. However, it is important to remember that Facebook owns 78 different companies, including WhatsApp and Instagram. In other words, Facebook is much more than cat videos and conspiracy theories. Headed by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Inc. is a well-oiled machine. Its power is undeniable and that power is growing. As Fortune magazine recently noted:

"It looks like Facebook can't be hurt - not by major ad buyers boycotting its services, not by state and federal investigations, and not even by pandemonium."

The COVID-19 pandemic may have brought the world to its knees, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was not affected. Last year, his net worth was $82 billion; today it exceeds $130 billion. Now that Zuckerberg is attempting to create his own metaverse, his value - and his power - can be expected to increase significantly.


Before discussing metaverse, it is important to ask one important question: what the hell is metaverse? From a combination of the words 'meta', meaning 'beyond' and 'universe', metaverse combines elements of the physical world and connects them to virtual spaces. American writer and author Neal Stephenson coined the term in 1992. Two decades later, no longer confined to the realm of science fiction, the metaverse is almost upon us.

In this wonderful new world, the boundaries between physical reality and the digital world will become increasingly blurred. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies are already part of the metaverse, but in the future, in the real metaverse, they will be connected to you, the user. Elon Musk wants to transport us to Mars, but Zuckerberg wants to transport us and put us on the internet. Literally.

In a recent interview with The Verge, Zuckerberg described metawebs as 'an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content - you're in it'. We will be tenants in Zuckerberg's ever-expanding home. The rent will be paid in the form of data. This is not a comforting thought. As Toby Tremayne of Wired pointed out, Big Tech companies like Facebook "have become walled gardens increasingly centralised and controlled by corporate interests". Facebook already "owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus", giving them "ownership of our friends, our behaviour, our gait, eye movement and emotional state". Soon, if Zuckerberg stakes his claim, Facebook Inc. will have even more control over our lives. I would argue that this should comfort no one but Zuckerberg.

Biometric data will be required to access metavers. Eye scans, voice recordings, heart rate, etc. All this information will be collected by Facebook Inc. What will be left with this data? Given that Facebook has a nasty history of user data breaches, this is an important question to ask. What rights, if any, will the metaverse have? If my avatar steals a resource, such as a digital graphic, from another user, will I be penalised? What happens if I live in Canada but my victim lives in Cambodia? If you think the crypto world has its own crime problems, and it does, imagine the problems that metaverse will present to us. Can we trust Facebook to oversee metawers? Of course not. On the other hand, who can we trust to keep an eye on the unknown? The world's governments? Not likely.

13-08-2021, Mr Advice TEAM

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