On the occasion of the annual Facebook Connect event Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed his major interest in the metaverse and announced Meta – a new name for the parent company of all Facebook-owned entities, moving “from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first”.
Metaverse is an extension of our online activities from the flat on-screen mode to a proper virtual world, where people’s avatars can play, socialize, work and learn. Just like in Ready Player One movie.
However, it will take more than a rebranding to persuade the public of Meta’s good intentions.
The company’s track record is the one of repeated misuse of its users’ data and irresponsible handling of algorithms, which encourage hateful and divisive content.
Now it says that it will build the metaverse “responsibly” and focus on privacy and open collaboration with external creators… although it does sound a bit like Mr Zuckerberg’s excuses each time after Facebook is caught on another misdeed.
If Facebook is to take these words serious this time, it would develop an open decentralized blockchain-based metaverse, where the land and other attributes can be owned by people in the form of NFTs, and where any developer could buy a plot and build something on it. This, however, would require a complete change of paradigm.
If its metaverse is centralized, on the other hand, it will end up having the same problems as Facebook itself.
While Meta is spending billions on virtual reality and the metaverse, the existing decentralized metaverse companies should double on their efforts to keep up.
Decentraland, TheSandbox and alike have the opportunity to prove that an open blockchain-based alternative exists, and help avoid a dystopian future where one company controls our virtual world.