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Metaverse Hype: Communist Propaganda?

Does the recent noise and fuss about the Metaverse resemble Communist propaganda? Phil Libin, A CEO who grew up in the Soviet Union. says so. He calls the hype “empty promises of an idealized future.’

Soviet propaganda poster" Art Board Print by Khokhloma | Redbubble

Libin founded Evernote, a note-taking app. He now heads Mmhmm, a videoconferencing firm.

Speaking in a recent podcast hosted by Eric Newcomer, Libin blasted Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of alternate reality. Mr. Z’s promises, he says, will never materialize. It is “…a gloss that uncreative people and companies put over fundamentally a lack of good ideas.” Ouch! That had to leave a mark.

What makes Metaverse hype like Communist propaganda?

So then, where does the comparison with Communist propaganda come in? “I went to first grade in the Soviet Union”, Libin said. “I was subjected to a lot of Soviet propaganda, and I was told… repeatedly, “Communism doesn’t exist yet. We haven’t built Communism yet. We’re building towards Communism.” Libin believes Zuckerberg and company are playing the same game. “You know, you can smell a bad idea before it’s fully built”, he says. “So I don’t want to hear, ‘Oh yeah, the Metaverse doesn’t exist yet. No, no, no, all this stupid, useless, crappy stuff that exists right now, that’s not the Metaverse. The Metaverse is coming. It’s coming.'”

Zuckerberg’s pet project has drawn fierce criticism. Some analysts say it will prove even more addictive than current social media. And so far, a distressingly high percentage of users seem to be children. They would be especially prone to suggestion through immersive digital environments. And people who grow accustomed to such experience would lose ability to function in reality.

Libin sneers at such concerns. He calls the Metaverse idea “so spectacularly stupid, there’s actually not that much to fear.”

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Across the Metaverse

Is your future in the ’embedded internet’?

Can you travel across the Metaverse? Should you?

If you ever saw The Matrix, a 1999 movie starring Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburn, you might guess roughly what this is about. In the movie, self-aware machines have trapped the human race in a virtual reality simulation.

Laurence Fishburne Doesn't Know Why 'Matrix 4' Left Morpheus Out | IndieWire

Well, now a real life version of The Matrix could be coming our way. Facebook and Microsoft have made much noise lately about their versions: an “embedded internet” meant to render the current internet obsolete.

Facebook’s Version of the Metaverse

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, calls his version the “Metaverse”. A “people-first internet”, it would rely less on current forms of social media and browser search. Instead, it would rely far more on VR and AR connections that seem almost to be alternate worlds. Zuckerberg has committed himself so fiercely to this vision, he renamed Facebook as ‘Meta’.

At a recent Oculus Connect event, Zuckerberg’s troops demonstrated seamless connectivity between some of its apps, such as Messenger, and Oculus VR and AR devices. Zuckerberg emphasizes social media and personal use.

Microsoft’s Version

Microsoft, by contrast, gears its version to business and professional use. The company claims to have built a collection of tools for enabling businesses to create “immersive spaces”. Via AR and VR, these tools will facilitate more advanced online meetings. Some apps enable ‘moving’ and interacting in virtual factories and retail outlets. These apps go by the name of Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces.

Microsoft calls the software for this project “Mesh”.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, dismisses Meta’s version as unrealistic. “The public perception of The Metaverse, as a futuristic world where plugged-in people recreate their whole lives online, is still a ways off. But business uses are starting to be available now.”

What Should You Believe?

Of course, we can’t predict the future. However, we can make some educated guesses. The Metaverse is unlikely to be as sinister as alarmists predict. And it’s unlikely to benefit us as much as its promoters predict.

Every new communication medium can draw us in and tempt us to abandon reality. All can be addictive. This was true of the original internet. It was true of television. It was even true of radio. We decide how much we’re going to immerse ourselves in any medium. We can walk away if we want to.


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Can you trust social media? Is your privacy always safe in the hands of Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram?

Most of us don’t give much thought to how social media are handling our personal data. Perhaps we should.

The network effects of digital communication enable extremely rapid growth for firms that get in early, and over time they can dominate their market segments. Within a few years, they can acquire monopolies or near-monopolies. Once such near-monopoly is Facebook. Because of its massive user base- numbering in the billions- it gets close attention from advertisers. It crowds out other media- especially print.

This, in itself, could create serious problems for you. But what if Facebook becomes the dominant means of authenticating personal identity? You may soon be unable to handle the ordinary business of life without an account.

The Zuckerberg Mafia finally hit me where it hurts.”

Consider the case of Jason Ditzian, who operates the website The Bold ItalicHe was recently kicked out of a San Francisco ride-sharing service, City CarShare, after Getaround bought it. Getround had founded its platform on Facebook, and authenticated membership through it. Lacking an account, Ditzian could no longer use City CarShare. As he put it, “The Zuckerberg Mafia finally hit me where it  hurts.”

Getaround’s user agreement states: “We may permit third-party advertising networks to collect information about your use of our service over time…” It goes on to state that this could include location information. Getaround, then, would know where you’ve been- and when you’ve been there. Could this be a threat to your well-being?

What are you telling the world about yourself?

Most people post huge amounts of personal data on social media. Your Facebook posts may reveal:

  • Where you live
  • Who your friends or lovers are
  • Where you travel
  • What pets you have
  • Where you work
  • What you read
  • Your musical tastes
  • Your political or religious commitments and opinions

This can provide a nearly complete profile of your personality, background, and interests. What happens if this information falls into the wrong hands?

Could governments get your data?

 So far, your social media posts are used mainly to benefit advertisers. This may not be a serious problem for you. But what if governments or hostile political activists get their hands on the data? Consider China, for example. It has begun assigning “citizen scores” for applicants for housing or jobs. Its scores are derived largely from information on social media.

Could something similar happen here? Could the state use your data to ruin your life? Could it guess your location at any given moment, based on your Facebook posts?

The personal information Facebook can collect now is already a severe threat to privacy. At least you can opt out of participating, though.

What if that option is taken from you? If enough businesses and social groups require social media proof of I D, you may have to give in. Your survival may require it. You would have to leave yourself vulnerable to those who would use your personal data against you.

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The enclosed images are from Black Mirror, a Netflix series. It is said to be a contemporary version of The Twilight Zone.