The Long Road to Addressing Digital Safety in the Metaverse

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Are we ready for the metavers? We all seem to want to experience it, but we haven’t measured its depth and complexity.

Metavers promises to change our perception of reality, but it is not without security risks. It didn’t take long for alarming stories of security breaches to spread to the metavers. While still in its infancy, early testers have been intimidated, sexually assaulted and subjected to racist diatribes. In fact, if the immersive games have told us anything, it’s that the users of these spaces are constantly at risk.

After years of experience facing the challenges of social media and gaming platforms, we now understand the complexity of the risks we could face in metavers. Consequently, this may be the right time to start planning for digital security. We need to understand the potential risks, design different scenarios to deal with them and leave enough room to deal with the unknown if we want to make metavers a safe and productive tool for humanity.

What is metavers?

Metavers is a 3D virtual reality world that strives to be a true augmentation of human reality and the evolution of today’s Internet. It’s basically the internet as we know it but with the addition of a totally immersive experience that allows users to go from a concert to a mall, buy clothes or even rent real estate.

Although it is an emerging technology, we have been experiencing the early stages of metavers for years. It became a trend in 2010 when we saw the first Oculus Rift VR prototype. Then in 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus, Samsung and Sony announced their VR releases, and the rest is history. Metavers is the culmination of virtual reality and augmented reality technology that we have been immersed in for the past decade.

Today, it is fast becoming a major player in disruption, changing paradigms about human interactions, how we live basic moments in life, and even academic and job opportunities. It is also transforming the labor market and generating new income opportunities for thousands of people who now offer services within the ecosystem; according to PWC, the metavers could be worth $ 1.5 trillion by 2030.

As many have said, as with any new innovation, there will be great opportunities but also great risks involved in metavers.

Related: Everything you need to know about Facebook’s new metavers

The same challenges, different technologies

The fact is that digital risks are already high, and as we learn more about metavers, we understand that they will go even further.

Metavers promises to emulate the real world in a digital ecosystem, which means that every little interaction will be replicated. From a diagnostic perspective, this will involve an assessment of each interaction as we know it today to try to understand the potential risks of this new ecosystem. A good start to assess upcoming threats is to learn from the social media challenges we face, which have taught us valuable lessons about data privacy, user authentication, policy violations, and free speech.

Some known risks include emotional dangers, which are already present on social media and could easily get worse in the metavers. However, other unknown scenarios will require different policies, systems, and security frameworks, such as inappropriate touching. The reality is that your avatar can be touched, harassed and harassed in the digital world. Imagine cyberbullying on metavers: avatars could follow and harass you verbally, and metavers seem much more real and tangible than comments on a social media page.

Many of the possible violations of the physical world will be present in the metavers, while the bad actors possess anonymity. This brings me to one of the most troubling aspects of metavers: child safety.

As we are reproducing all real-life scenarios, my mind immediately travels to the risks of this curious, excited, and at the same time vulnerable demographic. One of the key goals of the ecosystem should be to design the right frameworks to ensure the trust and safety of all actors involved, including and with special attention to children. Policies on user authentication to prevent impersonation, key principles to prevent child exploitation, appropriate safe gates to block inappropriate content for children, and even designing safe travel for their enjoyment should to be at the top of the list of priorities for developers, policymakers, and trust and security. experts.

Related: What Roblox taught me about my kids’ addiction to metavers

The steps we need to take

There are several steps we can take now to secure this future world for ourselves and our children. However, this is not an easy problem to solve, and a coordinated effort of several sectors will be needed. Industry will need to partner with government, academia, private institutions and civil society to address the upcoming challenges of this emerging technology. Although not everyone will agree on the rules of conduct or the consequences that unacceptable interactions should follow, a dialogue on these issues is needed.

Companies are already working hard to create ways to enforce personal boundaries in the metavers. We can now address deep-rooted counterfeiting using identity verification technology such as biometric authentication, blockchain, and other methods.

Effective action is planning based on prohibited behaviors in the real world. This applies to both community guidelines and formal laws. Updating these principles to adapt them to the new reality proposed by the metavers will allow for better adaptation and reduce potential harm to the most vulnerable audiences.

Related: Metaverse Wars: What’s the Future of Social Media?

A new but well-known problem

The metaverse is new and developing so fast that we still don’t have great answers to these complex security questions. Just as online threats are constantly evolving, so are the threats we face in the virtual world. People are innovative, sometimes cybercriminals especially. We need to remain vigilant in the face of these challenges, apply the lessons learned above, and keep looking for solutions as more and more of our lives expand into the metaverse. By asking the right questions, allowing difficult debates, and challenging paradigms, we will be on the right track to keeping people safe in the metavers.

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