Privacy In the Metaverse
Josh Pan

As the metaverse becomes more and more well-endowed, there are going to be more companies and businesses trying to get their hands in the pot, mixing online and offline experiences happening in a multitude of worlds filled with social spaces, online interaction, and information. Online privacy has become a more pressing issue now than ever, with the phase out of cookies and the oversharing of information. The metaverse is still a gray area in this sense. Just twenty minutes of VR use can create two million different data points. (Forbes) This information is going to be spread to different companies managing metaverse spaces, providing these companies a little too much control of what they can see from us.

The big issue here is the policy making for new privacy laws that will surround the metaverse. Social media recently had this problem, where activity tracking for ad targeting was taken way too far through app tracking and cookies. Ensuring the security of users requires cooperation and coordination from all departments in order to reach the correct policies that will prioritize the user’s privacy. Information such as the way you move, look, and act are all recorded for analysis by companies. Many free games sacrifice the user as the product, taking advantage of the information given due to a lack of restrictions. Policy makers need to bring different communities together to understand how much is too much. The data that is being collected is being monetized, and companies like Meta (previously known as FaceBook) have had problems with data collection in the past. The real question is if large tech companies such as Meta and Google can be put in check by policy makers. Recent changes in the data collection industry such as Apple’s changes to App Tracking Transparency are costing Meta and Google billions of dollars in digital revenue.

In order for this technology to succeed, it needs to be secure and allow it’s users to have privacy and transparency. While it is definitely going to take a long time, it must ensure that the governance rules and industry standards take into account the needs for marginalized communities and thoses that are less represented. The approach taken needs to be interdisciplinary and achieve proper risk management geared toward the user. Privacy will not only be a problem through different metaverses, but also in the advertising realm. While it is a completely different space for advertising, brand new marketing in the metaverse is something that is going to occur. There are many benefits to advertising from a business standpoint, but it is not a clear-cut transition in standards when comparing it to social media privacy. The standards that will be implemented will also allow companies to set a higher bar for overall customer satisfaction and privacy.