Last week, Facebook was renamed Meta and announced its plans to kickstart the development of the Metaverse – a whole new way of interacting and navigating the Internet. Now the Metaverse landscape has a multi-billion dollar corporate giant vying for control, which has made its future even more uncertain.
Like it or not, large companies are likely to have an important role to play in developing and evolving the Metaverse. But will it be plagued by the same problems that today’s social media giants face, or will decentralized platforms and services take center stage?
Related: New industry, new rules: building the metaverse without prejudice
Build a digital walled garden
At last week’s Facebook Connect conference, Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he would be spending $ 10 billion this year alone on developing the Metaverse – an ecosystem of connected digital experiences, services and platforms that seamlessly blends into the real world World.
Announcement of @Meta – the new name of the Facebook company. Meta helps build the metaverse, a place where we play and connect in 3D. Welcome to the next chapter in social connection. pic.twitter.com/ywSJPLsCoD
– Meta (@Meta) October 28, 2021
But as Facebook has shown time and time again – for example, when it stepped back on its promise not to require a Facebook account to use its Oculus products – it will almost certainly attempt to impose strict controls on the use and access to the metaverse enforce. After all, ecosystem lock-ins are a popular and proven way to force continuous engagement while isolating competition.
Given that Zuckerberg himself referred to the Metaverse as the “next generation of the Internet,” which will be used by hundreds of millions of users, it seems unlikely that a corporation with shareholders behind the scenes will not do everything in its power will position meta in the middle of the metaverse.
As a vast, emerging landscape that will no doubt usher in new avenues for creating, socializing, and working online, the Metaverse is becoming an ubiquitous medium that most internet savvy individuals will interact with to some extent.
In light of the recent publication of the damning Facebook Files by the Wall Street Journal, it was also revealed that the social media platform suffers from a plethora of problems and operates with some seriously dubious business practices – from a huge complaint of lax content moderation to favoritism specific user. All of this is in stark contrast to Zuckerberg’s supposed egalitarian vision for the metaverse.
If the metaverse in the picture was created by Facebook, count me out.
These documents also show that Facebook is rapidly losing popularity with millennials – the generation most likely to interact with Metaverse technologies.
Meta has already received widespread criticism for its plans and was recently called a “cancer for democracy” by American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a recent Twitter whip. That feeling seems to be the general consensus on Crypto Twitter who did not respond positively to the news.
Meta as in “We are a cancer of democracy that is metastasizing to a global surveillance and propaganda machine to strengthen authoritarian regimes and destroy civil society … for profit reasons!” Https://t.co/jzOcCFaWkJ
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 28, 2021
The game is rigged and not in your favor. Meta wants to own your digital identity and that way will have access to more of your data than ever before. No thank you!
The blockchain catapult
It is widely expected that blockchain will become one of the key technologies that will enable the development of a truly pervasive virtual space that can be navigated as securely as the Web 2.0 internet.
Thanks to blockchain-powered digital identity solutions that drive truly persistent digital avatars, along with digital assets that enable region-independent access to services and products, the Metaverse will inherit the values on which the blockchain industry was founded – namely permissionless access, censorship resistance , Security and decentralization.
Related: Regulators Come For Crypto: Is Digital Identity The Answer?
Nonetheless, the established tech companies will eventually try to get involved on the blockchain infrastructure side to steer the evolution of the metaverse and shape it according to their own image. Given that the Metaverse industry is set to grow at an average annual growth rate of 13.1% over the next few years, while the blockchain tech sector is set to grow 32.4% by at least 2025, there is strong financial incentive to walk early to understand.
Twitter is expected to be one of the first to join the action with Bluesky, a decentralized social media protocol that will eventually be used to host a wide variety of social networks – Twitter included. Given that Twitter has also had more than a fair share of controversy, including dubious account suspensions, high profile account hijackings, and numerous reports of state censorship, it’s not so clear whether this supports the key messages above.
Not to mention, Twitter (and many other social media platforms) are banned in several countries. And, as we saw with Facebook’s Novi Wallet product, corporate crypto projects attract excessive regulatory scrutiny, often severely limiting their scope and ultimately leading to a watered-down product where the balance between profit and progress is made is often skewed on the former.
A number of crypto-native social media platforms and Metaverse projects are currently in development and arguably have a big lead and technical advantage over company-based offers, as they can really remain approval-free and democratic. These include companies like Decentraland and Bloktopia – which offer an early glimpse into the Metaverse through their complex, user-driven economies, virtual real estate, and digital VR-based digital experiences.
It’s been a few days since we turned off the lights, turned off the human cannonball, and put Juan on the bus. So it is the right time to look back on the amazing four days of the #MetaverseFestival. A thread … pic.twitter.com/hgnAREtuaW
– Decentraland (@decentraland) October 29, 2021
Other purely decentralized social media platforms are also in sight, including Bitorbit. Based on Velas (a Solana fork), Bitorbit was designed to address the very issues that make corporate social media such a gritty experience for users and developers – using blockchain to restore privacy and help users better their content monetize and conduct secure online transactions.
Given its potential to radically change the way we interact with one another and shape our daily lives, the Metaverse is becoming a core technology for all of us.
However, as corporate giants will clash with the motivated and resourceful blockchain community over the evolution and nature of the metaverse, it is still unclear whether this is another tool developed around the masses or the promised land we all want to exploit.
This article does not provide investment advice or recommendations. Every step of investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph. Kalani Moe is the director of ecosystem growth at Velas, a decentralized smart contract platform from Solana. As a serial entrepreneur and early master builder in the blockchain area, Moe previously founded the Divi project and, as a former creative director, helped make CoinPayments the world’s leading payment processor for cryptocurrencies.
This article does not provide investment advice or recommendations. Every step of investing and trading involves risk, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Kalani Moe is the director of ecosystem growth at Velas, a decentralized smart contract platform from Solana. As a serial entrepreneur and early master builder in the blockchain area, Moe previously founded the Divi project and, as a former creative director, helped make CoinPayments the world’s leading payment processor for cryptocurrencies.