Privacy in the metaverse

The big idea behind the metaverse is that we are moving away from Web2, where we lost control of our personal data, to Web3 that relies on decentralized technologies where data owners and creators will be able to monetize their IP – whatever it is.

But new patents filed by Meta throw that assumption into doubt.

Some patents suggest creating even more personalized ads based on a user’s age, gender, the likes and comments they leave on social media, and how long they look at specific ads. There is also talk of reading a user’s facial expressions and adapting content around them, using eye and face tracking technology to enhance the experience (e.g., showing brighter graphics if a user’s gaze falls).

Facebook Meta patents would fill the metaverse with ads

Now, Meta isn’t the Metaverse, and filing a patent does not mean you’ll actually create the functionality. But if your business model relies on getting paid through ads, and you are one of the largest, if not THE largest ad vendor in the world, it’s difficult to come up with something that replaces that income stream. And that means that what you’ll do in the Meta metaverse will be closely watched and examined and will be used to monetize your experience.

Which also means that businesses looking at Horizon will need to understand exactly what is being tracked and what Meta does with that data. Or maybe opt for another vendor that sells a subscription as a business service, without relying on ads. No matter which vendor you choose, make sure you can disable or opt out from tracking, and confirm on a regular base that generic user data is aggregated and can’t be traced back to individual users. Even more important when you have employees in the European Union: the GDPR applies to the metaverse too.