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

1. Introduction

The Metaverse comprises a wide variety of virtual worlds. The Metaverse enables the seamless, fully interoperable, and highly composable interaction between people, objects, and assets. A collection of virtual environments aiming to imitate reality as nearly as possible. Governance is merely the beginning of the potential uses of the Metaverse. This paper discusses the future ethical, administrative, security, and privacy challenges that the metaverse will confront.

In addition, this paper considers the current patterns and techniques being adopted by existing online worlds as part of our solutions and research pathways to enable a more sustainable metaverse. It raises questions to the community regarding critical aspects of the administration and design of an accessible and inclusive metaverse but do not supply answers. In conclusion, we discuss a theoretical modular architecture-based approach to an ethically built metaverse.

2. Social & Cultural Issues Arising from Metaverse

To create immersive experiences, Metaverse utilises data obtained from the “actual world.” A user’s avatar can be realistically controlled by sensors attached to the user. Additionally, the Metaverse presents new difficulties in the shape of substantial virtual worlds, which might expose users to privacy invasions in the form of activities such as listening in on conversations taking place on other platforms (Güdüm., & DOĞAN., 2022). In this section, we will discuss the primary obstacles that will need to be overcome by creators, designers, practitioners, regulators, and users in order to realise the potential of the Metaverse.

The metaverse will have significant effects on both our culture and our personal lives. The trading of virtual assets online and in online games, in which users can generate and sell digital items such as avatar accessories, is experiencing a profound revolution (Cazón., 2019). We are already observing this transformation. However, establishing a metaverse confronts various hurdles, with privacy, ethics, and governance is the most critical. The technologies utilised to create the metaverse have created new ethical and privacy issues. The continuous sensing of users’ gadgets to provide them with more authentic and immersive experiences poses a risk to their privacy, security, and physical health. The information received from users’ biometrics, such as their gaze, gait, and heart rate, reveals crucial aspects of their mental makeup.

Second, the metaverse may be considered a miniature representation of our society. The administration of such expansive virtual worlds presents hurdles that must be surmounted to regulate user behaviour successfully. In order to efficiently administrate the platform and its users, the metaverse requires a set of rules and principles to follow. For instance, users of online virtual environments such as Horizons by Meta encounter several of the issues above. The inappropriate conduct of avatars includes using the virtual world of the metaverse to harass other avatars sexually. These behaviours raise problems about the appropriate punishments for poor behaviour and the regulations and policies the metaverse should have.

Due to the rapid development of web 2.0 and the Metaverse, learning and knowledge management are increasingly viewed as social activities. Individuals and students are utilising various forms of communication technology to increase their knowledge of the social context in which they pursue educational endeavours. Users, gamers, developers, and designers are all involved in constructing a virtual environment. All of these diverse microeconomies will be merged into one enormous metaverse economy. This is used to define the economy of the natural world, and we are producing and consuming a vast array of commodities and services that will define the economy of the metaverse. This implies that users, players, developers, creators, and other stakeholders within a virtual environment produce and consume outputs, which generates a capital flow and even jobs in the real world (Lee., et al., 2021). A nation’s economy depends on the contributions of its numerous cities, just as the global economy is based on the contributions of several nations. In the following sections, the business models of two companies, Roblox and Sandbox, both gaming development platforms and marketplaces, will be examined (Lee., et al., 2021).

3. Governance in the Metaverse

Before examining the potential of government in the metaverse, we can study the existing techniques that online social media and gaming platforms use to govern themselves, as well as the societal ramifications that these approaches have on users. The users of these platforms are susceptible to issues such as inappropriate behaviour, harassment by other users, and disagreement with other users (Duan., et al., 2021). When online communities grow to the point where their moderators, who are often other community members initially, are unable to keep up with the volume of comments and inappropriate behaviour exhibited by community members, a variety of issues arise. In order to manage undesired behaviour on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, automation tools have been added (e.g., banning inappropriate posts). In order to regulate spam and inaccurate postings made by other members, these platforms also rely on other users’ reports.

Similarly, gamers of massively multiplayer online games form communities to self-regulate the inappropriate conduct of other players (Bugawa., & Mirzal., 2021). This may include stealing the digital assets of other gamers or sending spam. By offering examples, this section illustrates how existing tactics from online social and multi-user gaming platforms could be modified to govern the metaverse.

3.1 Code & Rule

Similar to the physical principles that regulate the natural world, the metaverse software code can constrain the metaverse structure (Muessig., et al., 2015). Code shapes the behaviour of humans and the online environments they inhabit. The developers and businesses utilising the web platform have the opportunity to determine which features will be featured. Programmers can participate in societal decision-making while employing an open-source technique to realise the goals intrinsic to their idea of the metaverse.

3.2 The blockchain technology and decentralised autonomous groups

The capacity of blockchain to support the production of reliable data and intelligent contracts establishes it as a transformational force for online platforms (Fernandez., & Hui., 2022). Since it enables sharing information and transactions requiring verification and trust, blockchain technology has been considered a potentially disruptive technology. There is a chance that the implementation of this technology could improve metaverse governance. Autonomous decision-making algorithms have the potential to have a significant impact on the metaverse as a whole. It is strongly suggested that open-source approaches be utilised in building the metaverse. The general public may find it challenging to comprehend the algorithms; hence, the platform should include auditing measures.

In conclusion, it is essential to note that the computational methodologies mentioned in this paper cannot account for all human governance practices. Nonetheless, they can facilitate non-computative operations within the metaverse, such as voting and content regulation.

3.3 Governance & modules

The complexity of high-stakes online governance is exacerbated by online platforms lacking many of the essential qualities of offline (physical) governance legacies. The authors of this study present a modular bottom-up governance architecture applicable to online platforms. This adaptability enables the creation of portable tools that can be adapted to operate on several systems and serve various functions. The governance layer should include a variety of processes (such as juries and formal debates) and link with numerous governance systems. Decentralized autonomous organizations are an example of a governance structure corresponding to the traits above. These governance solutions allow users to participate actively in the decision-making process.

4. Conclusion

To sum up, this report summarises the most significant challenges the metaverse will face in the future in terms of privacy, governance, and ethics.  In addition, we present the initial step in developing an ethical architecture for the metaverse.  However, there is still much research and testing before the metaverse can become the utopia that many people desire.

Reference list:

Bugawa, A.M., & Mirzal, A. (2018). The Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies on the Learning Experience of Students in Higher Education: A Review. Int. J. Web Based Learn. Teach. Technol., 13, 1-17.

Cazón, A.O. (2019). Marca Personal 2.0. Influencia de las herramientas web 2.0 para la creación, desarrollo y gestión estratégica de la marca personal.

Duan, H., Li, J., Fan, S., Lin, Z., Wu, X., & Cai, W. (2021). Metaverse for Social Good: A University Campus Prototype. Proceedings of the 29th ACM International Conference on Multimedia.

Fernandez, C.B., & Hui, P. (2022). Life, the Metaverse and Everything: An Overview of Privacy, Ethics, and Governance in Metaverse. ArXiv, abs/2204.01480.

Güdüm, S., & DOĞAN ERDİNÇ, E. (2022). In-Game Advertising Applications Within Metaverse: Sandbox Alpha 2 Example. Türkiye İletişim Araştırmaları Dergisi/26306220.

Lee, L., Braud, T., Zhou, P., Wang, L., Xu, D., Lin, Z., Kumar, A., Bermejo, C., & Hui, P. (2021). All One Needs to Know about Metaverse: A Complete Survey on Technological Singularity, Virtual Ecosystem, and Research Agenda. ArXiv, abs/2110.05352.

Muessig, K.E., Nekkanti, M., Bauermeister, J.A., Bull, S.S., & Hightow-Weidman, L.B. (2015). A Systematic Review of Recent Smartphone, Internet and Web 2.0 Interventions to Address the HIV Continuum of Care. Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 12, 173-190.