Mark’s Metaverse: The implications of Facebook’s rebranding

November 19, 2021


3 min read

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What's going on here?

Mark Zuckerberg has recently announced his plans to rename his company to “Meta” – leaving behind the two dimensional version of Facebook and pursuing a digital reality called the Metaverse.

What does this mean?

A Metaverse is a 3D real-time rendered world where you can create and explore with others who aren’t in the same physical space as you. This means that the internet is going beyond just viewing content. Individuals will have the ability to do more than they can do on a 2D app. With accessibility across all different computing platforms and partnering up with a range of companies and developers, a Metaverse will allow individuals to engage with others on the internet more naturally.

What's the big picture effect?

Mark Zuckerberg has emphasised his goal of building a community for all within the Metaverse. Unsurprisingly, conversations have already sparked up regarding the regulatory and privacy issues surrounding the building of the Metaverse. The Metaverse will hold Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) at the forefront of its economy. Since NTFs have the ability to give individuals and things an identity within virtual spaces, they will be of importance for transactions in the Metaverse. Once all assets become tokenized, users will be able to buy anything they want in the Metaverse and prove ownership of it. However, there is still no direct regulatory guidance on NFTs, meaning the Metaverse will be based on a concept outside the reach of legislation.  With plans of launching the Metaverse in the next 5-10 years, the law may need to catch up. It is yet to be decided how to properly regulate the current emerging technology, let alone a whole new digital world. Importantly, one company will own the Metaverse meaning problems with accountability and addressing blameworthiness could arise. A need to create separate regulations to keep the Metaverse under check will be important. However, creating effective regulation can only begin once the Metaverse has been created which only pushes the regulators back. Additionally, the use of extensive technology to run the Metaverse highlights serious privacy issues. Marcus Carter describes VR and AR technology as “the most data-extractive digital sensors” (BBC). With Meta already collecting a large amount of user data with its current tech product, a move to a digital reality could result in more sensitive data being extracted. For example, through identifying the user by learning how they move within a virtual environment. Guidelines and protocols about how to keep the Metaverse a safe space have been in talks, however, whether these will be enough to protect consumers is debatable as this is coming from the CEO of a company which has had “repeated data lapses over the years” (Fortune). Yet, Zuckerberg is focused on a thoughtful approach to privacy, with a big focus on ensuring that each developer is building the Metaverse responsibly from the get go. For example, working with outside experts to implement secure privacy measures. Undoubtedly, many companies will be invested into this idea – Nike being the latest company headed to the Metaverse. With an abundance of companies joining into the initiative, there will be a big challenge for lawyers when trying to reach legal solutions. IP and competition lawyers will be at the forefront of this and law firms will need to place themselves in a position which can advantage clients who are moving into the Metaverse realm.

Report written by Dominika Gaber

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