Published on December 27th, 2021 | by Mahbub Hasan0
Metaverse is a horrible idea and the real reason it exists is different
Amid the turbulence, chaos and waves of lawsuits around history’s most villainous corporation Facebook, they announced they are going to change. Change their name that is. Facebook rebranded itself as Meta, keeping relation with their latest evil plan called Metaverse. I am calling this an evil plan, because I can see hundreds of ways “Meta” can use Metaverse to do things they have always done, turning their users into money making products.
Meta changed their name from Facebook, announced that they would invest billions of dollars into a thing they called “Metaverse”. It is an AR/VR game world but more dystopian and dark. Facebook, the company now rebranded as Meta, said that they would build this fascinating world with avatars, social features, games, items and more visually stunning and connected. Zuckerberg in his Meta announcement kept yapping about one thing, putting people in the centre of their product. It means they are serious about focusing on the social and connectivity aspect of Metaverse.
They want you to meet friends, chat with your team at work, play games, share activities, watch shows, and enjoy entertainment all in the world that would be owned and regulated by Meta. You see the point? Facebook could not control the world and the policy, but they can sure control the heck out of a world that they literally own. Be it fake.
With Metaverse becoming a reality, soon enough, you will see creators selling virtual clothes, fashion accessories, arts and virtual lands in exchange for real money. You think a million dollar monkey picture is stupid? Wait for Facebook opening up Metaverse for the creators who will ask a million dollars for a virtual bracelet. Now, there will be some stuff minors would not be able to resist, like game assets, skins, etc. Facebook and other companies have track records of pushing people toward mindless buying, so they will apply the same marketing tactics and try to push more useless garbage virtual products that do not have any resale value.
Despite taking several steps by many government authorities, scamming little kids into buying useless garbage has not so far taken any big steps to stop it completely. Many game companies still target kids to buy virtual things in exchange for real cash. Kids and teens are most vulnerable to these practises when they see their friends buying cool virtual accessories and skins. Companies have no shame for taking their money without providing any real value. This virtual stuff simply doesn’t exist. If a server crash happens, all the virtual stuff stored in the centralised server will cease to exist.
The app Facebook already collects a terrifying amount of data about you and your connected friends and people. They even track those who are not using Facebook! Now, Facebook knows a little stuff, and guesses other aspects depending on your location, social interactions, visited websites, your system and other things. Now, imagine how accurately they can profile you with something that tracks your body movement, cornea, facial imaging, your continuous facial and body changes, your surroundings, home, deep personal preferences and biases. Meta can use this data to do all sorts of horrible things you can’t even imagine. Just think about that. With sophisticated tools and isolation, Facebook can be used securely for business. But how will you hide from a headset that has hundreds of cameras and sensors, that checks and sends data about your physical state every minute to Meta server. This is so dystopian that I feel like living inside a sci-fi novel.
There is a scholarly article that describes how TikTok is causing teen girls to randomly swear, hurt themselves and act weird in real life. Some people are calling it TikTok tics and this shows how serious the effect of social media is. According to TrueList, 74% of Americans check Facebook at least once daily. More than 210 million people worldwide are addicted to social media, and this is causing anxiety and depression to teens. Many people admitted using social media for more than 5 hours a day. Researchers believe that inactivity can cause depression and social media is one of the biggest causes of idling.
There are also other dangerous aspects of social media. Teens and kids love to meet their friends on social media, even more than meeting them in real life. They share interests, achievements and expect votes to feel special. This constant urge to get approval pushes them to use social media more and become depressed when they get less votes or likes. It also affects many adults. They see all the perfect people having perfect lives, having “perfect” bodily features or structures and become anxious thinking they are underachieved.
Now, Metaverse will just add to these issues and contribute more to the negative sides. Now, people will feel less secure in a more connected and terrifying world. You will see your rich friend buying a virtual house worth millions of dollars and feel insecure. Now more predators can meet their targets, become more closed and isolated in real world, more stupid stuff to buy, more anxiety and depression, more urge to buy newer hardware to keep connecting with fake friends.
Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta. But they did not try anything to emerge from the pile of their past mistakes and fix it. Even though they have changed their name, they are still the company who permits high profile politicians and stars to do whatever they want, including false advertising, spreading propaganda and wrongly influencing people. This is the same company who knows that Instagram is toxic for the teens and kept it secret. Facebook spreads hate by promoting and making angry responses and videos perform better than other contents. They have failed stopping drug cartels and human traffickers from using their platforms.
The list only goes longer. Facebook has done much horrible stuff, including attracting kids to their platforms, but not providing enough security tools and privacy. Facebook also relied on so many factors that are straight up doubtful, even to their own engineers. They have many AI algorithms to police the platform, but the effect and accuracy was always questionable. And people still have doubts about how Meta will build Metaverse responsibly because they have not done anything right for the past 10 years.
There is a formula to modern business, if you succeed in creating something big and you’re the first one to do it, you’ll be able to monopolise the market soon enough. Facebook is not only the biggest social media company in the world, but also one of the biggest monopoly businesses in the world. Out of the fear of competition, the company Facebook (now Meta) has shown aggressive responses by buying out the competing products and companies. Facebook has acquired instagram, whatsapp, connectU, Lightbox, Friendster and lots of others. Some of the companies they acquired are for improving their base products, others are for eliminating competitors.
Now, Metaverse will help Meta to continue this monopolistic but in a different way. Facebook has already bought companies that can help other companies to create such products. Few examples are Within, Unit 2 games, etc. We already know they have acquired and strongly associated themselves with Oculus, but in the near future, we can expect them to acquire more companies, as Meta announced they will invest tens of billions of dollars into Metaverse. Meta has already acquired ImagineOptix, mostly to make Metaverse a reality technology-wise.
All these steps by Mark Zuckerberg to make the world more dystopian, yet Metaverse is not something that is unique, or even ready. Researchers suggest that the technology is not yet ready to make Metaverse a reality. Yet, Meta announced it so strongly that they will make it happen. Metaverse is set to come out fully fledged within 2030, so why the early announcement and doubling down on publications and media coverage?
The real reason is obvious. They have done so much worse stuff that there is no way to recover from the bad PR other than announcing something totally absurd and seemingly impossible for the current tech industry. This has worked like a charm, not to say this article is also the byproduct of the stunt Meta has done after the whole Haugen-Facebook-files scandal. It is simply a distraction for us despite the technology not being remotely ready in the present.
In the background, there are still lawsuits and probing going on, but on our end, we are only getting bombarded by the updates about Metaverse. Lots of topics, news, articles and contents about Meta and Metaverse. It feels like the name Facebook and the whole fiasco has been erased from the front pages. People are talking about VR, the fake world, dystopia and AR glasses now.
Facebook (now Meta) is a company we cannot trust. Metaverse is a dystopian idea that can cause chaos and more problems and solves none of the issues we already have like social media addiction, spreading hate and violence and ever worsening mental health conditions of our generation. Instead, it will just add more to these issues. More ways to feel insecure, non-stop spending sprees and isolation. It can harm our privacy and put an end to it and our kids won’t be safe with it. It is better not to jump into the bandwagon because it is all a stunt to hide the bad deeds by the company that was once Facebook, a villainous corporation with aggressive and monopolistic business policy.