In a new interview, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen takes aim at Meta, claiming that its version of the Metaverse will merely repeat all of its previous errors.
Last year, when Frances Haugen posted hundreds of documents exposing Facebook’s unwillingness to act when presented with its users’ destructive behavior, she provoked uproar. Now, the former Facebook product manager is concerned about how those ideals will be translated into the so-called metaverse, which the rebranded Meta aims to play a key part in creating.
In her interview with Politico, Haugen said,
“They’ve made very grandiose promises about how there’s safety-by-design in the Metaverse. 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.”
Haugen noted her dissatisfaction with the number of sensors involved. When we move into the Metaverse, we’ll need to install a lot more Facebook microphones and other types of sensors in our homes.
Installing sensors and microphones — in homes, offices, and possibly even public spaces — to replicate our every move and collect massive amounts of data to create digital twins of real-world environments will be required for the metaverse to truly work, at least the 3D-goggles version that Mark Zuckerberg has been promoting.
Lack of trust for Meta’s Metaverse
According to Haugen, the data collected might range from the number of times our eye concentrates on a product while wearing a virtual-reality headset to changes in our pulse rate while playing a video game to calculations about what food we buy using an internet-connected fridge. If Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision comes true, we’ll be wearing sensors-equipped gloves that allow “full-body tracking.” You name it, and it’ll almost certainly be counted.
Haugen isn’t the only one who is worried about this. According to a poll, 70% of users do not trust Meta to protect their privacy appropriately.
Andy Yen, CEO of encrypted email service ProtonMail, is likewise concerned about Big Tech behemoths like Meta wielding unilateral power. In an interview last week, he stated that his own company, Proton, will only be able to exist due to the goodwill of internet behemoths.
“Tech giants could today remove us from the Internet with zero legal or financial repercussions.”
The metaverse is heavily hyped and not understood well enough. However, whatever this hybrid offline-virtual reality world looks like in the future, it will rely on a lot of our personal data and a willingness to give some of the world’s greatest tech companies access to the most personal aspects of our lives.