Digital transformation, privacy and the “dark side” of the Metaverse
The privacy of people and data is one of the biggest concerns generated by the Metaverse
Technology is becoming more sophisticated with each passing year. However, as the metaverse begins to unfold, we are only scratching the surface to harness data in new and innovative ways.
The metaverse is coming. But the question is: are we really prepared?
According to Chris Wylie, the Cambridge Analytical whistleblower who pushed for a massive review of privacy practices and legislation around the world, the answer to the above question is a resounding no. In fact, he warns that it would be better to start stopping the metaverse before it infiltrates our daily lives.
Chris recently spoke with Cheetah Digital’s CMO Richard Jones about the metaverse, marketing, and the future of privacy. In particular, he questioned the long-term societal impact of the metaverse in transforming our human environment.
“People have largely become who they are by freely navigating their world. It is through his experience in life, dabbles and chance, that allows him to grow and develop as a person. But what happens when the environment suddenly decides to get involved, classifying you, influencing your every move, and ultimately grooming you to be the ideal consumer?
Comparing the metaverse to a physical entity like a skyscraper or an airplane, Chris paints a picture of how digital worlds should be architectured with so-called emergency exits or other protections. It should have some kind of building code that protects its users, their privacy and, above all, their mental health, he says.
One of the most shocking takeaways from all of this, says Chris, is that privacy is just one small piece of the puzzle. The issue at hand is much broader and more complex than the data collected and how it was collected.
“When we look at some of the consequences of algorithmic damage, whether it’s mental health and mental well-being – particularly in young, developing men and women – to social cohesion around the world, where the real damage stems from these systems, It is critical that we address these consequences before the metaverse becomes mainstream.”
Build a new paradigm
When there are more safety regulations for a toaster in a kitchen than for a platform that affects a billion people, Chris says, it’s time for a change. The best way to make that change, he says, is to start at the origin.
“A big part of the problem is that we’re not framing the conversation around who’s responsible: the engineers and architects. The things that are causing harm are the products of architecture and engineering,” he says.
“If you look at how we relate other technology products and other engineering products, whether it’s aerospace, civil engineering, pharmaceuticals, etc., there are safety standards. There are inspections. We need to start examining the technological constructs on the Internet to ensure that regulatory frameworks are in place to create a safer environment.”
Digital transformation, bias and the “desired reality”
Chris wonders what happens when people start customizing their experiences in the metaverse to suit their preferences. So, for example, racists could remove people of color from their sight. Or people could create a society where, walking down the street, they no longer see the homeless; I no longer saw major social problems.
Related: The Metaverse and Consumer Data: Here’s What You Need to Know
“What happens to a society when we no longer fully understand what is happening around us, and the only ones who do are the ones in charge of increasing it?” he asks. “It’s a really important question, and it’s not far-fetched.”
In the value of Face(book)
Despite Facebook’s attention-grabbing algorithms, now called Meta, that encourage one-sided opinions and fuel misinformation, marketers continue to pump huge sums of money into their platform each year. But is it worth it? Are we correct in believing that Facebook data is really as valuable as they believe?
According to Chris, absolutely. “From a purely functional point of view, yes. It is incredibly valuable data », he admits.
The problem, however, is not that brands use that data to create personalized ads. The problem, he says, is a bit more complicated. “There’s a difference between personalized advertising and building an entire ecosystem using that logic,” says Chris.
“When you look at the news feed that Facebook and other social media platforms provide to users, it extends this logic that originated for advertising, showing content that is relevant to you.
“It’s not just about the basic things that make your ads more efficient, but also less annoying for the people who receive them. It extends to: ‘You should only see the things that engage you the most, period, in all the information you consume’, to the point that the only information you consume is the one that usually makes you very angry, because that’s what is going to make you click on things. And that’s different from marketing.”
Don’t trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing
To support companies that want to transform and adapt to the brave new metaverse reality, Chris offers some advice: Don’t trust a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“The tool that you use, that you love so much, is probably one of your biggest threats. Although advertisers cringe at the idea of regulations limiting what they can do, in the long run, regulations can be beneficial to the viability of the industry,’ he says.
«We must not be carried away by the bad practices of a sector that behaves badly. There is a substantial loss of trust in platforms like Facebook because they continually fail to listen to consumers. Does not respect consumers. Siding with that industry could backfire in the long run.”