The metaverse of Facebook could become the playground of surveillance.
Last year, Frances Haugen made headlines when she released thousands of documents that exposed Facebook’s (now Meta) failure to act against users’ harmful behaviour.
She has again accused the social media giant of repeating the same mistakes.
“They’ve made very grandiose promises about how there’s safety-by-design in the metaverse,” Haugen told Politico in an interview. “But if they don’t commit to transparency and access and other accountability measures, I can imagine just seeing a repeat of all the harms you currently see on Facebook.”
Metaverse right now is loosely understood. Many believe they will replace social media. It is feared that the type of data that could be collected in Metaverse could range from the number of times your eye focuses on a product via a virtual-reality headset to changes in your heart rate as you play a video game to calculations about what food you buy through an internet-connected fridge.
Since users will be wearing sensors to truly experience the virtual world, their data could be recorded easily.
Well, Meta (formerly Facebook) has assured of responsible tech.
“We’ll work with experts in government, industry and academia to think through issues and opportunities in the metaverse,” Andrew Bosworth and Nick Clegg, two senior Meta executives, said in a September blog post. “We also need to involve the human rights and civil rights communities from the start to ensure these technologies are built in a way that’s inclusive and empowering.”
The views of Haugen are echoed by users as well. According to a recent survey, 70% of people don’t trust Meta to handle privacy properly.
“I’m super concerned about how many sensors are involved. When we do the metaverse, we have to put lots more microphones from Facebook; lots more other kinds of sensors into our homes. You don’t really have a choice now on whether or not you want Facebook spying on you at home. We just have to trust the company to do the right thing.”Frances Haugen
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, worries the real-time collection of so much personal data could make the fears of Government surveillance look like child’s play. The group warns that there are likely to be few, if any checks, on what companies can do with all the information they collect.
These issues are still not a major part of policymaking. For responsible tech, the effort will have to come from the bottom. This would pressure them into taking the right steps.
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