Metaverse has been the talk of the town for a very long time now. It offers several new and exciting features that were beyond anybody’s imagination until a few years ago. But what most people often tend to forget is this technology comes with its own set of threats and challenges. Let us take a deeper dive into the potential dangers associated with the metaverse.
Metaverse can be best defined as a three-dimensional virtual environment that brings multiple virtual environments together. Even though we are yet to witness a metaverse that fully satisfies the definition, but still there are quite a few platforms that carry the essence of the concept just fine. From video game companies to financial institutions, everyone’s trying hard to get ahead in the race of adopting this emerging technology and taking their digital presence to the next level.
The Underlying Threats
There are conversations about the advantages of the metaverse and the problems it solves everywhere, however, it is vital that we pay attention to the underlying threats too. Is the metaverse dangerous? Well, it can be.
Some of the dangers of the metaverse have been discussed below.
You must have come across reports highlighting the vulnerability of young adults and teens to online harassment and cyberbullying. Online harassment has also led to numerous teens feeling low on self-worth as well as suicidal. Many experts are of the belief that since the experiences in the metaverse are overwhelmingly similar to the experiences in the real life, the feelings of pain and suffering, too, are genuine.
2. Health Issues
Most people make the mistake of associating the dangers of the metaverse with an individual’s mental health without realizing that it may impact their physical health too. Malicious people often replace advertisements with posters and clips that cause motion sickness and even epileptic convulsions.
3. Identity Theft
If we do not adopt rigorous security measures while working around the metaverse, the chances of identity theft will automatically rise and cause issues. Identity theft is already a multibillion-dollar industry in the real world, and it may soon become one of the most talked about metaverse dangers.
4. Data Mismanagement
Most businesses, especially online ones, tend to collect personal data from their users in order to offer them a more personalized experience. However, without proper security measures in place, virtual reality has the potential to take sensitive data collection and use to the next level.
If information technology is a domain of your interest, you must already be familiar with this term. Ransomware is categorized as malicious software that encrypts your data and blocks you from accessing it. The scammers attacking your system with ransomware often ask you for a sum of money in exchange for your data. You could end up losing a lot of sensitive information as well as money if not careful enough.
6. Distance from Real World
One of the most talked about risks of the metaverse is that it is taking people away from real-world experiences, and it is true to a certain extent. Technologies, such as augmented reality and virtual reality are influencing how people perceive the real world.
Deepfake is a term used for audios and clips that are modified to appear or sound like someone else. This type of media can be very deceiving and is often created as a part of bogus information campaigns.
8. Dangers of Living in a Shared Space
The metaverse aims to connect individuals, but it also brings potential challenges, such as encountering those with opposing perspectives. Research has shown that behavior in virtual environments, such as massively multiplayer online games, can differ from in-person interactions, and many people are likely to pursue the opposite gender and people younger than them in a demeaning manner.
In the context of the metaverse, addiction can refer to a person's inability to control their use of virtual environments despite negative consequences in their real life. There have been instances where users have reported their inability to stop or reduce the amount of time spent in virtual environments, despite attempts to do so.
10. Financial Fraud
Phishing scams, unauthorized transactions, Ponzi schemes, and virtual goods frauds are some of the many forms financial frauds may take on the metaverse.
11. Exposure to Inappropriate Content
Users of the metaverse are always at risk of being exposed to inappropriate content, such as violent and sexual content, hate speech, and misinformation. It’s the responsibility of companies and organizations that operate virtual environments to monitor and regulate the content on their platforms.
12. Socioeconomic Disparities
Some experts see socioeconomic disparities as one of the risks of the metaverse. The metaverse can create a digital divide, where some people have access to the metaverse and enjoy its benefits, while others are left behind. This can further exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities, such as lack of access to education, job opportunities, and social connections. The metaverse is a digital space and as such, it must be accessible to all, regardless of economic background.
What can be done?
There is a growing consensus among businesses, scholars, and government officials to implement laws and regulations that prohibit the same behaviors in online spaces as in the physical world. Even though there are countries like Australia that provide commendable support to victims of abuse online, a vast majority need to catch up.
Let’s all be a part of a safer digital future!
It is of utmost importance that we come together to find ways that incentivize better behavior among the users of the metaverse. Rewarding positive behavior may also play a significant role in making the metaverse more secure and reliable. Even though there are certain cons of the metaverse, it is a technology that has immense potential and is capable of transforming the way we see the digital space today.
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Surbhi is a passionate reader and writer. She has been writing for several years now, and enjoys demystifying complex topics to make them understandable for a broader range of readers.