If the Metaverse is to follow Web 2.0, how should it be governed?

Diverse governance of the metaverse in a Web 2.0 perspective


One of the prerequisites for exploring the governance of Metaverse is the integration of Metaverse with web 2.0, characterised by participatory networks that highlight the importance of interaction and collaboration. The Metaverse, on the other hand, is a virtual digital living space that interacts with reality as a Mixed Reality (MR) structured by the hardware services Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) (Stylianos, 2022). The Metaverse can see as a realistic practice of the interactive web highlighted by Web 2.0 and a potential leap from Web 2.0 to Web 3, the new iteration of the decentralised World Wide Web (Nath, 2022). At the level of web governance, too, then, instead of one-way governance in a narrow sense, the perspective should be on the diversity of governance. This paper will focus on the governance of the Metaverse, using the concept of Web 2.0 as theoretical support. Firstly, it analyses why diverse governance chooses and the possibilities for diverse governance of roles. It follows by an analysis of how the different actors involved in the web should perform their governance tasks, including an analysis of the anti-monopoly and anti-exploitation aspects of the governance process from a political economy perspective, as well as the governance of privacy and security from a social ethics perspective. The analysis thus allocates the task of governance to the various actors in the life of the Metaverse. It integrates governance into the daily functioning of the Metaverse, thus deepening the distinctive feature of Web 2.0 that focuses on personal interactive communication.

"Metaverse", by Mehmet Hocalı, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Metaverse“, by Mehmet Hocalı is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

To govern or not to govern? Diverse governance of the Metaverse

The diversity of governance that the Metaverse can adopt depends on an analysis of the historical development of Internet governance. In the early history of the Internet, governance or non-governance was a topic of debate. Inspired by the concept of ‘free technology’, early Internet regulation perceives as ‘ungovernable’ (Gray, 2022, p.7), as hacker culture and meritocratic culture (Castells, 2001) were essential parts of the Internet that the spontaneous order of its creators could only manage. However, with the advent of the Web 2.0 era, the rise of digital platforms has brought about a new paradigm of development in which the audience is no longer a mere recipient but is involved in the generation of Internet content (Jenkins, 2014). Gorwa has developed a triangular model of platform governance that involves the participation of government, companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society organisations (i.e., the audience) in the governance process (2019). This model makes sense for a Metaverse based on Web 2.0. It differs from the monolithic governance model for traditional media, which only includes self-monitoring by media companies and government oversight and lacks audience-level participation. In addition to preserving the freedom of expression of the audience and practising the spirit of freedom and equality of the Internet (Trottier, 2016), this triangular governance model decentralises power. For example, each governing individual is under the supervision of another party, which also helps to avoid regulatory abuse (Gorwa, 2019) and combines self-regulation with regulation by others. Thus, after reviewing the historical process of Internet governance, it is possible to see that a multi-actor and multi-modal governance is optional and feasible for the Metaverse practice while following Web 2.0 that emphasises audience participation.

‘Platform governance triangle’ (Gorwa, 2019)

Governance at the level of political economy: anti-monopoly and anti-exploitation

This part takes a political economy perspective on how to avoid some monopolies and exploitation in the Metaverse through governance and which actors can take responsibility for them. The first is how anti-monopoly can avoid through governance. The Metaverse has adopted hardware such as MR and brain machines at the hardware level to provide users with a lasting and immersive experience (Park & Kim, 2022). It combined with many visitors to the entire digital living space requiring software to boost computing power and load, makes operating costs steep. According to statistics, Meta is already losing over $10 billion in 2021 to develop the Metaverse project (Kovach, 2022), which means that it will take a tech giant to host the operation of the Metaverse. One of the potential threats posed by tech giants paying large sums of money is Techlash, which could affect the development of the Internet by increasing public concern and fear (Hemphill, 2019). Therefore, for the government, the creation of anti-trust laws and policy restrictions need to be implemented to alleviate the audience’s fear and helplessness toward big tech companies (“Media ownership rules and antitrust laws,” 2022). Anti-exploitation is also an essential element of Metaverse governance. Under Web 2.0, content management is made more complex by the massive amount of information produced due to user participation in content production. The data proliferation of the Metaverse will undoubtedly exacerbate this situation. Exploitation here is diverse, encompassing media companies’ free labouring of content producers, i.e., the infringing use of content. For example, in 2018 Huang had sued Alibaba for using his photo work without permission in its Weibo operation activities (China Intellectual Property News, 2019). It also includes the exploitation of content censors — because content censorship requires a combination of human and AI work, such as the poverty of censors described in The Cleaners (Block & Riesewieck, 2018). For both actors, closely with NGOs and governments to create unions to ensure that their legal rights are not compromised serves as a unique governance model that protects governance action.

Screen shot of The Cleaners (Block & Riesewieck, 2018).
Screen shot of The Cleaners (Block & Riesewieck, 2018).
"A vendor explains mixed reality to an attendee at the 2016 Sea-Air-Space Exposition." by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
A vendor explains mixed reality to an attendee at the 2016 Sea-Air-Space Exposition.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The socio-ethical dimension of governance: privacy and security

A socio-ethical approach to the governance of the Metaverse in terms of privacy and security can circumvent the shortcomings of the Metaverse. The first is the protection of privacy. The Metaverse operates on more sophisticated hardware, which allows it to read more of the user’s private information, including the user’s biological data. At the same time, as a living space, users need to share more personalised information in the Metaverse. The need for privacy information protection has thus deepened. Information leaks due to security protocols are a reality in the Web 2.0 era, such as the iCloud cloud incident that leaking of numerous photos (Driscoll, 2014). It has undoubtedly heightened users’ concerns about information leakage. Thus, there is a need for multiple governments of platforms with improved protocols and privacy protection systems and government anti-leakage laws and security support to safeguard information privacy. Cybersecurity governance is the regulation of Internet Addiction Disorder and cybercrime. Due to the Metaverse’s highly interactive and immersive nature, it is more addictive than online video games. Users’ choice to immerse themselves in the Metaverse to escape reality can also bring about mental and physical health problems (Cash et al., 2012). Relevant NGOs such as Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care should exercise their regulatory capacity and work with audiences to urge online platforms to establish rating systems and anti-addiction systems, such as time limits adopted by game companies as a governance solution to mitigate online addiction (Borak, 2020). At the same time, as an intensely realistic digital life platform, cybersex crimes, cyberbullying, and other internet problems can also occur in the Metaverse. The consequences of realism may exacerbate them. It requires the government first to fill the legal vacuum of Metaverse crime, to develop a robust system and enforce it. In addition, platforms should also be staffed with regulators to track criminal behaviour and prevent potential criminal threats. For example, both governments and platforms need to address child predators in the Metaverse to reduce the incidence of crime.

"Sign in to iCloud under magnifying glass" by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Sign in to iCloud under magnifying glass” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
"#bebest-michael-nuccitell-internet-addiction-disorder" by iPredator is marked with CC0 1.0
#bebest-michael-nuccitell-internet-addiction-disorder” by iPredator is marked with CC0 1.0.


The Metaverse is a new product of the Web 2.0 system and is a window for the efficient development of Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. Therefore, the regulation of the Metaverse needs to follow the essential characteristics of Web 2.0 and involve interactive participation. This paper expands the regulatory action from the traditional one-way independent regulation to a diversified regulation that distributes the regulatory responsibility to the various groups in the chain according to their needs. It allows the regulatory action to be integrated into the daily functioning of the entire Metaverse so that the group serves as one of the foundations for sustaining the meta-universe. At the same time, each party has its role in avoiding domination. It deepens the concept of cooperative interaction in Web 2.0 and promotes the realistic practice of the Metaverse by making regulation a part of the logic of the Metaverse.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CCBY-NC 4.0).


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