What are the Risks of the Metaverse?

While the metaverse promises some interesting and entertaining aspects for our society, there are also many challenges and risks in launching it. The metaverse, a term coined by science writer Neal Stephenson, describes an internet-run universe where users can socialize and play in a virtual setting. For online video gamers, a metaverse may be the paradise they’re hoping for, as they can easily switch between gaming and virtual socializing. However, for many others, there are many questions and risks still needing to be addressed in the adoption of a metaverse. Below are a few main risks that the metaverse may bring if these risks aren’t properly addressed. 

The Metaverse Risks more Misinformation 

While companies like Facebook are now pouring millions into developing new metaverse technology, they are also the source of thousands of misinformation cases or fake news stories. Facebook in particular has been having fake news problems, and with the 2020 U.S. election specifically, was very purposeful about who could publish what. As a metaverse will be an expansion of social sites like Facebook, it’s important to understand how misinformation might spread in a metaverse. 

The Metaverse Risks Lack of Regulation 

As there are few regulations on the internet today, it is easy to see how there would be few regulations on a future metaverse. This lack of regulations can cause serious issues, like privacy concerns, or court cases over intellectual property ownership. There are also risks to profit regulations and taxation. As many current metaverse companies, like online games, make profits in cryptocurrency, there need to be regulations in place to address issues with this currency and the revenue streams. Most global governments just haven’t modernized their legal infrastructure to deal with a future metaverse yet, and need to soon.  

The Metaverse Risks Personal Privacy 

With companies like Facebook already participating in data mining, it’s no surprise that people are fearful of this continuing, or even intensifying, in a future metaverse. Facebook has promised that the future metaverse will be built on selling virtual goods, which means advertising, which in turn implies data collection on individuals. As there are few, if any, government regulations on big data companies like Facebook in regards to personal privacy, these companies don’t have to be held accountable for the data mining processes that they go through. The future metaverse threatens to continue and amplify this process if no new regulations are established. 

There are many other challenges and risks that come with a rising metaverse. It’s important to address many of these challenges, especially when looking at investing in metaverse companies, or working with a metaverse product. 

Photo Courtesy of Freepik.com 

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Hughes-Castleberry

Kenna Castleberry is the Science Communicator at JILA (formerly known as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics) at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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