(Originally posted in Resumé.se – Swedish Press)
“The better these global giants becomes at creating alternate realities and enable users to create virtual worlds, the easier it becomes to falsify, distort or even lie online. Already, things we take for granted as authentic, such as pictures, videos or conversations can be falsified through simple apps.”
As Facebook announced their re-branding to Meta a couple weeks ago, the massive tech company also spoke of their ambitions for the future. The next big thing in Meta’s vision is what they’re calling a metaverse – ”an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it”.
It’s easy to understand why Facebook would consider – and is now going through with – a big move like this. The company is ageing – and no social media company want to feel old to its users. There’s also been a lot of pressure regarding privacy and sharing of user data, with Zuckerberg having to answer to the US congress more than once.
Facebook’s strength has in part been their ability to understand where the attention of social media users lie. They bought Instagram and WhatsApp, tried to buy Snapchat, and because they are everywhere, they certainly have a better ability to understand where online trends are evolving than just about anyone.
Metaverse comes with challenges and risks
Meta is certainly exciting for the billions of people using the social media services of Facebook today. According to their statement, Meta aims to create their metaverse using groundbreaking new technology in combination with the innovations of millions of creators and developers around the world.
However, as most versed within the technical field knows – and as Facebook/Meta mentions in their statement – new development comes with new challenges and risks.
Today, Facebook’s made a lot of money by providing room for and even pushing hate and division. Facebook employees have long understood that their company undermines objective views, in America and across the globe. Facebook’s hypocrisies, and its hunger for market domination, are not a secret, nor is the company’s algorithmic amplification of negative narratives.
The better this giant becomes at creating alternate realities, the easier it becomes to falsify, distort or even lie in the digital world. Already, things we take for granted as authentic, such as pictures, videos or conversations can be falsified through simple apps.
There’s also a real irony to the fact that Zuckerberg, who has never experienced anything close to a normal adult social life, is the person making decisions about platforms that mediate our online social realities. Watching him answer questions in interviews or “socialize” in virtual reality while he ignores the problems his company has created in the actual world, is both strange and frightening. It feels like he’s desperately trying to create something he never had. Like a child music-star or actor, searching for a lost past. But the result this time is not a public crash-and-burn à la Britney Spears, it is an experiment on humanity itself.
It’s easy to see why alternate realities creates a critical need for society to be able to prove and preserve what’s genuine and true. Looking at current circumstances, it’s all our responsibilities to safeguard facts. It starts with media, but I’d argue that its everyone’s responsibility to care about the integrity most types of communications.
Going forward, we will all be required to care as much -or more, about the truth as we ever have before.
Knowledge, understanding and a desire to know what is actually true must be more important than the entertainment we get from an iteration of reality, created by Mark Zuckerberg – no matter how amusing that iteration might will be.
About the author: Patrik Slettman is the CEO and founder of TRUE, a company that helps organizations automatically generate and issue blockchain-secured documents, such as certificates, diplomas, licenses and awards.