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Facebook’s dystopian image for its metaverse

By Raymond Dai Dec. 8, 2021

Xintong Zhao Art

Oct. 28 marked a turning point for Facebook when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would be changing its name to Meta. Though Zuckerberg claims that Meta aims to build “technology to connect people,” the name change reveals the company’s frightening plan for the future.


The name “Meta” is based on the term “metaverse,” a futuristic world in which people use a combination of virtual and augmented reality devices to connect with others. While the technology remains a work in progress, Facebook is not the first platform to announce its plans to build a metaverse. In April, VentureBeat reported that Roblox hopes to design a metaverse with limited lag to improve live interactions between users. However, unlike Meta, Roblox officials gave importance to user safety, especially for minors.


Facebook’s announcement comes amid a “Facebook Papers” controversy after employee Frances Haugen leaked thousands of pages of incriminatory documents to the U.S. Congress. The documents include reports of the platform’s negative impact on teen mental health, its rampant spreading of anti-vaccine misinformation and its dissemination of racial hatred in India, according to Insider.


Facebook—a company currently rattled by scandals—has the goal of influencing every aspect of its users’ lives

As Ars Technica states, Haugen argues that a Facebook-owned metaverse has the potential to be “extremely addictive...encourag[ing] people to unplug from the reality [they] actually live in.” While Facebook claims that its name change reflects a long-term project and is not a response to recent events, the announcement’s suspicious timing is clearly a cover-up.


Facebook’s mission to create a metaverse itself is questionable. Although the platform alleges that it intends to unite people from all over the world on the web, a 2013 study showed that 11% of Indonesians who use Facebook are unaware that they are on the Internet, suggesting that Facebook is only interested in growing its own influence rather than educating its community to access the web. Though the concept of allowing users to connect with people, meet friends and shop for goods and services virtually may seem convenient, it implies that Facebook—a company currently rattled by scandals—has the goal of influencing every aspect of its users’ lives.


Facebook’s transition into a metaverse is a massive red flag, as the company is already engulfed in controversies and charges of unethical behavior. With users more susceptible to data collection in a metaverse, Facebook’s name change hints that the future of the Internet and how we interact are at stake.


 

About the Contributor

Raymond Dai

Opinions Editor


Raymond Dai is a junior at Leland High School and the Opinions page editor for the Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys playing badminton, sleeping, and mountain biking.

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