Will the metaverse come to life? Here are the most important facts and answers about Meta's enormous project.
Late last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook parent company would be rebranded as Meta. As part of that announcement, he talked about his dream that Meta will eventually be a “metaverse company.” What does that mean in practice?
In the metaverse, physical and virtual realities are to merge via augmented reality and VR technologies. The metaverse includes a series of virtual spaces that can be created and explored together with friends or other interested parties. It doesn't matter if your friends are in close physical proximity or not. It’s meant to become a place to hang out with friends, work, play, learn, or become artistically active. Physical items can be scanned into the metaverse to be present there as well.
Avatars, virtual representatives of the real person and user, will live, work and communicate with others in the digital world of the metaverse. Thanks to VR goggles and headphones or external speakers, the user in their data suit can take excursions into virtual landscapes, work in the digital office, or go shopping directly in the online department store.
To fill the metaverse with life, however, requires not only impressive graphics but also metaverse worlds that invite users to explore and investigate. Which sounds pretty nuts, but if you’re currently looking for real estate, you may have already had your first contact with this cornerstone of the metaverse. For example, a virtual walkthrough of a dream property has already become part of everyday life, as home builders use VR goggles to pick out the tiles for their new bathroom. Or colleagues at different locations can already meet in virtual rooms for a joint team event.
Further reading: Will the metaverse be the new internet?
On video game platform Roblox, there are virtual worlds where you can exchange or trade goods. In the popular game, Fortnite, there are also already virtual worlds where people can meet each other. In a virtual concert hall within the game, twelve million fans watched a performance by rapper Travis Scott.
Mark Zuckerberg told his staff last summer that Facebook's future would hinge on the construction of a metaverse. In a blog post, Facebook announced it would create 10,000 new jobs within the EU over the next five years to create the metaverse. Twenty percent of Facebook's workforce is to be dedicated to the metaverse project.
Legislation might also play a role in the future of the metaverse. In the US and EU, there are ongoing discussions about regulating or even splitting up the company. The EU, for example, is discussing two bills: the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. They are both intended to regulate the internet in cases dealing with personalized advertising, illegal content, and more.
Virtual worlds not only create new opportunities for encounters and experiences, but create new opportunities for cybercriminals. We asked our Security Evangelist, Luis Corrons, what cyber dangers he sees in the metaverse. "All cybercriminal activities related to social engineering techniques have a great potential to work very well in the metaverse. For example, I'm pretty sure we'll see different types of scams, such as romance scams, sextortion scams, etc.," Corrons explains.
"We will probably be able to trade virtual items in the metaverse, and to do that we would have to leave payment information,” Corrons says. This can lead to different types of attacks, from phishing for the end users to hacking the platforms to steal the credit card information stored in their systems, identity theft, money laundering, and so on.”
With this in mind, major platforms should not only take care of the design of the metaworlds but also think about the possible threats from the very beginning.
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