On account of the enormous growth of information on the Internet and the massive and discrete nature of the subject, a new trend has emerged from the two-way continuous communication between platform and audience of the Web 2.0 era to the de-platforming of Web 3.0. (Rizvi, 2022)
In this context, the metaverse was generated with the technical support of Web 3.0. The metaverse was the birthplace of the virtual image, originally from a novel called Snow Crash (1992), which depicted a 3D virtual reality world. (Lee & Kim, 2022) As the ‘post-reality universe’ emerges, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are both products of the convergence of technologies. The meta-world opens up new possibilities for humans to use the Internet for social and economic activities.(Lee & Kim, 2022) Despite the fact that, unlike Web 2.0, which merely deals with the management of platforms and databases, the challenges of technologies such as AR raise challenges in terms of business empowerment, ethics and personal data privacy. (Mystakidis, 2022)
Is metaverse data transparent ultimately? Does the essence of decentralisation remain a returning of power to a handful of business giants rather than ordinary people?
Antitrust and Privacy Security
Web 3.0 as an enhanced version of social networking in all likelihood is merely a front and not a step away from the platforming of Web 2.0 to authentic freedom of information and redemption. The Web 2.0-era platform giant Facebook is moving into the metaverse by avatar Meta introducing virtual world society. Zuckerberg’s interests prioritize mergers and acquisitions of software and application powerhouses under the leading trend of VR, but there are insufficient data protection laws in the United States to clearly state follow-up measures and clear regulations for cross-platform data misuse. (Heller, 2020)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened an antitrust investigation into Meta (SumOfUs, 2022), examining whether the cloak of a centralised platform remains in place in the process of de-platforming. The excessive censorship and cyber-hegemony from Web 2.0 further deteriorates into an alternative financial model of data concentration paradigm. (Rizvi, 2022)
The privacy issue of extracting biometric traits is a data intrusion brought about by technological innovation. Hidden data exchange services that are not alerted by as many recipients in the Web 2.0 era could be used for more serious access and control of information without a single benefit group. (Murray et al., 2022) The range of choices and preferences of users, such as the length of time spent browsing an item, are inferred in the VR world based on the wearable device’s collection of the user’s eye movements and changes in facial expressions. (Heller, 2020) As data collection in the metaverse will be more straightforward and specific than in social media, the intensity of regulation is necessary. (Riva & Wiederhold, 2022)
For privacy concerns such as online identity theft and online fraud using personal information, tampering with data, and hackers using wearable data to be able to eavesdrop and track users are all happening. The collaboration between Facebook and Ray-Ban smart glasses takes into account the rigour of biometric psychology to infer preferences. The user’s data access rights are protected in a relatively consumer-friendly design:
Ray-Ban’s Personal Data Protection. From Designed for privacy, controlled by you. [Screenshot], by Ray-Ban, 2022 (https://about.meta.com/reality-labs/ray-ban-stories/privacyutm_source=about.facebook.com&utm_medium=redirect).
Intellectual Property and Commodity Exchange
The metaverse’s sense of intellectual property and commodity protection was born out of the digital virtual marketplace that is part of its economic function. When the transparency and openness of socializing in the digital space have no clear boundary, users are at a loss as to the degree of control they have over information. Specifically, the improvements are made through computer-designed code. Second Life, for example, simply regulates certain actions and monitors incorrect conversations through a number of parameters and carries out automatic creation of incorrect object profiles for punishment, establishing Linden Law, which protects the intellectual property created by the user in the metaverse. Linden actually retains a sense of privacy protection from God’s perspective, but proper autonomy allows players to vote for more rules and rights. (Leenes, 2011)
This contains the paradox that benevolent dictatorship, which represents low democratic participation, and the false transparency of the invisible hand seem to coexist. Despite the protection of intellectual property rights, the sales and brand image of retail shops in the metaverse are more prone to counterfeiting and infringing appropriation of the real world and become commercially available in the virtual world. As an economy, the exchange of goods formed by the concept of online and offline can facilitate new business models for brands.
The jurisdiction of the metaverse is becoming increasingly broad and elusive as the boundaries of the Internet continue to blur. Unauthorised virtual goods draw out concerns about the inability of physical legal protection to protect the property rights in the metaverse. With information patterns becoming more fragmented, the potential for controversy can only be reduced by fashion protection for certain popular items and increased brand monitoring in the virtual marketplace. (Dews, 2022) In the broader Internet sphere, the problem of ambiguous trademark exploitation and potential damage to goodwill can be combated by filing trademark applications and applying for actual damages in court. (Khanijoun & Gardère, 2022)
The absence of a defined standard of censorship of content and space could lead to the emergence of a more discriminatory world, interspersed with the unease of sexual harassment. Studies show that nearly 60% of women choose genderless or male roles for their own protection. In Web 2.0 platforms, online hate speech can be contained and dismantled simply by searching for keywords, but metaverse is the equivalent of a different online community, and it becomes more challenging to pinpoint a crime.
Sexual Harassment and Toxic Gaming Environments
A female player is tactilely perceived to be severely and constantly sexually harassed in the multiplayer mode of a VR game QuiVR‘s fight against zombies.
VR Game Scene: QuiVr Player character image in game. From Steam [Screenshot], by Bluesteak, 2018 (http ://store.steampowered.com/app/489380/).
The anonymity of the internet and role-playing in virtual games encourages audacious bad behaviour. (Wiederhold, 2022) QuiVR has also developed a “power gesture” to prevent this, which can be used to make the player next to the subject disappear. The paradox is that the promotion of correct values and misogynistic war stories overlap, and the asymmetry of the digital space brings about an ethical debate. Games are not a vacuum, but are closely linked to external realities and social trends. (Sparrow et al., 2020)
There is a potential danger in the propensity for violence that people’s immersive and vivid experiences in VR provoke. Due to these concerns, the Chinese government has taken a conservative view on the design and popularisation of VR. For example, by changing the colour of blood from red to green to deduct the game’s violence rating, it contributes to a balanced gaming experience and psychological resistance rating. In addition, China has other regulations regarding the meta-border.
Horizon Worlds, owned by Meta, which Facebook pioneered in order to invade the meta world, is also a highly interactive game featuring virtual characters. The nightmare of female players confirms virtual world abuse. Similar to QuiVr, Meta‘s subsequent improvements to the metaverse include setting security boundaries and allocating $50 million to enhance the business of protecting digital worlds. (Milmo, 2022)
Personal Boundary in Horizon Worlds. From Introducing a Personal Boundary for Horizon Worlds and Venues [Screenshot], by Meta Quest, 2022 (https://www.oculus.com/blog/introducing-a-personal-boundary-for-horizon-worlds-and-venues/ )
Without a clear demarcation between private and public spaces in the metaverse, measures are only superficially symbolic. It remains unclear whether anonymous identities should be held accountable and whether they can be considered as data subjects. (Rizvi, 2022)
The emerging virtual space, which was originally intended to provide a more accessible and fun online environment, has allowed many criminal and harmful elements to take advantage of it. Not only women, but also black and LGBTQ+ communities suffer from varying degrees of racism and marginalization and have the right to make their voices heard.
The Digital Services Act (DSA) The landmark experience of the Digital Services Act (DSA) in Europe is a wake-up call to the metaverse environment under US domination resembling Meta, where joint regulatory initiatives resist the ambitions of a few large ambitions of platforms and a vision of mechanisms to consolidate algorithmic transparency. This allows for better control of hate speech and cyber threats. (Kshetri, 2022)
If the metaverse continues to evolve, it is possible that the cities and jobs of today will be replaced by virtual worlds. It is debatable whether tomorrow’s metaverse is a double-edged sword of data concentration and leakage crisis hidden under a decentralised façade, whether the development of science is irreversible, but whether it really turns out to be a space that is both inclusive and optimized for coexistence. In the future, a prayer for a combination of humanization and knowledge of the environment in which the meta-boundary is used makes the challenge concrete. (Riva & Wiederhold, 2022)
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