At the tail end of October, Facebook CEO, Mark Zukerberg, in a video alongside popular Tiktok star Khaby, announced Facebook Inc. will be changing its name. Formerly known as Facebook Inc., the parent company behind Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and Oculus, is now known as Meta Platforms Inc. The name change represents the future of the company as they dive into the next-generation innovation, the metaverse. The metaverse is designed on virtual reality allowing users to experience and interact with the virtual world as if it was the physical world.
However, the move by Facebook – well, Meta – has witnessed a massive backlash from users, governments, and other corporations, and for good reason according to experts. According to a Forbes article, Facebook’s plans to build the hardware and software for a metaverse it could be catastrophic for users’ privacy. It means that Meta will install more sensors in people’s homes, cars, and offices, collecting more data from the users – but as shown before, Meta (Facebook) cannot be trusted to keep data private. Why would they keep more data private?
However, executives from Meta claim that the metaverse has been in the works for a long time and they plan to build it responsibly. Sharing in an interview, Andrew Bosworth, VP, Facebook Reality Labs stated the metaverse will keep users’ data private as they aim at social responsibility by partnering with experts in the field. They will involve several partners including human rights and civil rights communities in order to build the metaverse “in a way that’s inclusive and empowering”.
Additionally, the company will release a $50 million investment fund for their research programs in the metaverse world to ensure the products are built and developed for all.
The dark path to the metaverse creation
Facebook has time and again shown its disregard for data privacy. The company’s AI algorithm has been under the spotlight for aggressively marketing to people as the company faces allegations of selling data to third parties without their consent. This has seen a huge swath of people delete Facebook-owned apps or reduce their usage, citing a lack of trust in the company’s data privacy policies.
With Apple improving their data privacy and boosting their privacy features on iPhones, users are slowly flocking to the company’s side – while asking Facebook to do the same. However, with the rise of the metaverse, it could get worse for Meta users once the project takes shape.
Some have even called out Facebook’s name change to Meta a “distraction from the privacy accusations they face”. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen shared with the Associated Press that the metaverse could be a ploy to increase Facebook’s monopoly in social media as they hide under the face of creating a metaverse.
“If you don’t like the conversation, you try to change the conversation,” Haugen said in relation to Facebook’s name change to Meta.
A fresh solution for digital identities
The rise of powerful big data companies could be the end to data privacy, many users fear. However, developers across the world are gradually building blockchain-based solutions to curb data breaches and data privacy concerns. As the metaverse is developed users need to protect their data and digital identities from powerful corporations hence the switch to decentralized solutions.
One such platform is SelfKey, a digital identity system built to reform and revolutionize how the world views, manages, and processes identity-based data and transactions by using blockchain technology. SelfKey is built on the Ethereum blockchain and leverages its KEY token, which is a cryptographically secure ERC-20 compliant token, to protect users’ digital identity and maintain data privacy.
Launched in 2018, the platform offers digital identity solutions that empower individuals and corporations to truly own, control, and manage their identity data. Targeting fintech products and services, bank accounts, residencies, and management of cryptocurrency portfolios, the platform ensures every transaction or data transfer remains fully in control and discretion of the user.
SelfKey targets the upcoming metaverse world to give users a secure and decentralized platform to store, verify and use credentials in a non-custodial wallet. Users can also stake their KEY tokens against their digital identity to ensure they are the rightful owner of the identity and receive rewards in return. The platform uses a proof-of-identification (POI) consensus algorithm to keep users’ data secure and from the prying eyes of third-party corporations – unlike Facebook, now Meta.
Building a decentralized future for the metaverse
Blockchains are changing the game allowing users to own their own data and these should be the same principles that follow through once the metaverse is built. Simply put, the lack of decentralization and privacy could open up an avenue for bad actors to come up with questionable practices when dealing with vast amounts of data.
Solutions such as SelfKey and KEY token aim to provide a new view to the metaverse through identity verification via the Living Avatars NFTs. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, have been used to promote digital art as the prices of most NFTs skyrocketed across 2021. However, NFTs are more than a quick money-making scheme, as their key function is authenticating and proving ownership over digital assets. This could be replicated to authenticate real-world value, especially for digital identities.
For example, the Living Avatars NFTs by SelfKey grant users control over their own digital identities enabling them to protect their data, identities and prevent Sybil attacks.
As Facebook develops its metaverse, most users remain skeptical on how they will prevent data leaking and stop selling data to third parties. Blockchain technology helps solve the low trust users have in big data corporations by giving users total control over their own data and digital identities. In the event that the metaverse will ever come into existence, centralization could leave the power of our data to one single company – probably Meta given the strides they have made so far.
In the future, blockchain and decentralization should be at the core of the metaverse to avoid such a case. Solutions such as SelfKey could help in the development of a secure, privacy-enhanced, and free metaverse.
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