The Metaverse continues to grow globally. It is attracting a lot of attention because of the opportunities it provides in terms of discovery, augmented reality, and revenue diversification for companies. But not only. Its use also raises concerns about security issues, lack of regulation and the exclusion of a class of people who do not have access to Internet connectivity and digital skills, among other things.
(Cio Mag) – After Facebook announced it had changed its identity to “Meta,” several companies recently showed interest in the Metaverse. But what can we learn from this universe? Metaverse is an interconnected virtual environment where social and economic elements reflect reality. Its users interact with each other simultaneously “on immersive devices and technologies, while interacting with digital assets and goods.” This is explained by the recent global multi-stakeholder initiative of the World Economic Forum in Davos, “Define and Build the Metaverse”, which aims to share strategies around this technology.
Harassment and security risks, the other side of the coin
In fact, the Metaverse has many advantages. Facilitates interaction between people. It improves the image of brands and presents itself as an opportunity to broaden the horizons of companies. According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence, this new universe could weigh in at more than $800 billion by 2024. But behind these opportunities and advantages, there are many concerns that fuel the controversy.
At the end of December 2021, Meta, for example, was taken over by a user victim of harassment on its first virtual platform, Horizon Words. This case is not isolated. What is behind the harassment? IDuring the World Forum in Davos, May 23-26, the World Economic Forum (WEF), one of the most influential international institutions, expressed concern “about the security and anonymity of Metaverse users.”
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On the part of the states too, one wonders. This is how Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence in the United Arab Emirates, expressed his concerns about the risks of being killed on virtual platforms. “If you send a message via WhatsApp, it’s a text message, right? It might terrify you, but it, in a sense, won’t create memories that make you suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But if you come to the Metaverse, a real world […]’I’m killing you, and you see that, it takes you to a certain point where you have to respond aggressively, because everyone agrees that some things are not acceptable,'” he told CNBC.
The need to organize
What do you do in the face of growing fears? Philippe Nadeau, General Manager of DigiHub Shawinigan (Quebec – Canada), emphasized that cases of cyber harassment are not new in the virtual world. It has been around for a long time in the world of video games in particular. “The concerns come from the scale they have taken with the advent of the Metaverse,” the expert admits. As for the need to organize this universe, this question remains complicated for Mr. Nadio. Two reasons explain its frequency. First, “each state has its own internet and data security regulations,” he explains. Second, “each operator operates on the basis of its own internal guidelines and regulations.”
Despite these two difficulties, there is indeed a need to think of solutions. As a leader, Philip Nadeau suggests, on the one hand, that “each operator sets specific regulations” around this virtual world. On the flip side, Metaverse’s “Each country sets a good regulatory policy”. As an example, he cites China, which created its own Metaverse company, or the United Arab Emirates, which investigates how to punish perpetrators of crimes committed by their Metaverse avatars.
These strategies can limit slippage in the Metaverse. For their part, the Defining and Building Metaverse members called for an appropriate governance framework for the Metaverse. The latter will involve coordination “between regulation and innovation,” while maintaining “the privacy and security of users.”
Faced with concerns, Meta’s product manager for his part wanted to be reassuring: “There’s probably something like a rating system,” so that a parent or youngster can get an idea of the rules in the environment they’re going to get in, Chris Cox explained.