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“You Don’t Really Have A Choice Now”: Facebook Whistleblower On Dangers Of Metaverse

Although there is still not much clarity about the Metaverse, it is felt that the hybrid offline-virtual reality world may draw a lot of personal data

After stirring outrage last year over Facebook’s failure to act when confronted with its users’ harmful behaviour, Frances Haugen, a former employee of the social media giant, has now taken an aim at the rebranded Meta, suggesting that the company’s version of the Metaverse is likely to repeat all its past mistakes.

Ms Haugen had last year leaked internal documents from the social media network and accused the company of not doing enough to curb the spread of misinformation.

In an interview with Politico, Ms Haugen said the Mark Zuckerberg-led company has made “very grandiose promises” about how there’s safety-by-design in the metaverse. However, if Meta fails to commit to openness, access, and other accountability measures, all the harms seen on Facebook are likely to be repeated, she said. 

Although there is still not much clarity about the Metaverse, it is understood that the hybrid offline-virtual reality world would draw a lot of personal data from users. 

For the 3D-goggles version of the Metaverse to work, which Zuckerberg has been promoting, a user will have to install intrusive hardware such as sensors, cameras and microphones in homes, offices and maybe even public spaces. With the help of information from these devices, the Metaverse will replicate every move of a user and collect massive amounts of data to create digital twins of real-world environments.

According to Ms Haugen, to be a part of the Metaverse, the user will have to use microphones from Facebook and other kinds of sensors in their homes.

“You don’t really have a choice now on whether or not you want Facebook spying on you at home. We just have to trust the company to do the right thing,” Haugen told Politico.

Prior to becoming a whistleblower, Ms Haugen worked as a product manager at Facebook. Last year, she had revealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and The Wall Street Journal internal documents of the social media company, which later came to be known as The Facebook Files.

At that time, Ms Haugen had said Facebook “prioritises profit over the well-being of children and all users”. She had said that the social media giant had overlooked and dismissed the complaints about the content from a majority of its employees.

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