Facebook changed its name to Meta last week and announced plans to launch the Metaverse, a completely new way to interact and navigate the internet. The Metaverse landscape now has a multibillion-dollar corporate behemoth at the helm. This has made its future even more uncertain.
Major corporations will play a significant role in the Metaverse’s development and evolution, whether we like it or otherwise. Will it face the same problems as today’s social media giants or will decentralized platforms, services and platforms take center stage?
Similar: Building the Metaverse with no bias: New industry, new rules
A digital walled garden is possible
Last week, Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed plans to invest $10 billion in the development of the Metaverse, an ecosystem of digital experiences, services, and platforms that seamlessly integrate with the real world.
The new @Meta name for Facebook. Meta is building the metaverse. It’s a place where we can play and connect in 3D. The next chapter in social connection is here. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD
— Meta (@Meta), October 28, 2021
Facebook has proven time and again that it is willing to put strict controls on the use and access to the Metaverse. Ecosystem lock-ins, which are popular and tried-and-trued ways to encourage continued engagement, while also limiting the competition, are very popular.
It seems unlikely that a corporation with shareholders to please wouldn’t do all it can to place Meta at the center stage of the Metaverse, given that Zuckerberg called it the “next generation internet”.
The Metaverse is a vast and exciting new landscape that will undoubtedly introduce new ways to socialize, create, and work online. It will be a common medium with which most internet-savvy people will interact to some extent.
The Wall Street Journal’s recent “Facebook Files”, which revealed a host of problems and unethical business practices at the social media platform, has also been released. These include a large lawsuit, lax content moderation, preferential treatment for certain users, and a massive lawsuit. This is in sharp contrast to Zuckerberg’s claimed egalitarian vision of the Metaverse.
I’m not interested in the Metaverse if it is created in Facebook’s image.
These documents also reveal that Facebook is losing popularity among millennials, the generation most likely interact with Metaverse technologies.
Meta has been widely criticised for its plans. In a Twitter rant, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez recently called Meta a “cancer of democracy”. This seems to be the consensus on Crypto Twitter. They didn’t respond favorably to the news.
Meta as in “we are a cancer to democracy metastasizing into a global surveillance and propaganda machine for boosting authoritarian regimes and destroying civil society… for profit!” https://t.co/jzOcCFaWkJ
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 28, 2021
It’s not your game. Meta wants your digital identity and will be able to access more of your data than ever. Thank you!
Blockchain is widely believed to be one of the key technologies that will enable the creation of a virtual space that is pervasive and can be navigated as securely as the Web 2.0 web.
The Metaverse is poised to inherit the Blockchain-powered digital identity solutions, which will allow for truly persistent digital avatars. These digital assets also provide regional access to services, products and services.
Related: Regulators are looking for crypto: Is digital identification the solution?
However, tech incumbents will eventually seek to control the blockchain infrastructure to help shape the Metaverse. Given that the Metaverse sector is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 13.1% over these next few years and the blockchain technology industry is forecast to soar at 32.4% through at least 2025, there’s a strong financial incentive for establishing a foothold early.
Twitter will be the first to join Bluesky, a social media protocol decentralized that will eventually host a number of social networks. It is not clear if this will support the core tenets of the above, however, as Twitter has also been subject to controversies such as account suspensions and high-profile account hijackings.
Twitter and many other social media platforms are prohibited in certain countries. As we’ve seen with Facebook’s Novi wallet, corporate crypto projects are subject to excessive regulatory scrutiny. This can often restrict their scope and ultimately result in a reduced product that is more profitable and less productive.
A variety of crypto-native social networking platforms and metaverse projects is currently being developed. They have an arguably greater technical advantage than corporate-backed offerings and can be truly open-source and democratic, which gives them a significant head-start. Bloktopia and Decentraland are two examples. They offer a glimpse into the future of the Metaverse through their user-controlled economies and virtual real estate.
It’s been a while since Juan was bundled into the bus and the lights were turned off. It feels like the right moment to reflect on the four amazing days of the #MetaverseFestival. A thread… pic.twitter.com/hgnAREtuaW
— October 29, 2021, Decentraland (@decentraland).
Bitorbit is another pure-play, decentralized social media platform that is on the horizon. Bitorbit, which is based on Velas (a Solana Fork), was created to address the exact problems that make corporate-owned social networks such a miserable experience for creators and users. Bitorbit uses blockchain to restore privacy, help users better monetize content and transact securely online.
The Metaverse has the potential to revolutionize how we interact and live our lives every day.
It is unclear if it will be another tool to exploit the masses, or the promised land that we all desire, with corporate giants set against the resourceful and motivated blockchain community.
This article is not intended to provide investment advice. Every trade and investment involves risk. Readers should do their research before making any decision.
These views, thoughts, and opinions are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Cointelegraph.
Kalani Moe, the director of ecosystem development at Velas is a decentralized smart-contract platform that was forked from Solana. Moe is a serial entrepreneur, early builder in blockchain space. He was previously the founder of the Divi Project and served as the creative director for CoinPayments, the world’s largest cryptocurrency payment processor.