With the opportunity to create a brave new world — the metaverse — companies and experts are putting privacy and consent at the forefront of their new virtual societies.
The metaverse is a persistent and interoperable virtual world, one that may someday allow users to move around and interact much like they do in the physical realm. But the builders of the early metaverse aren’t satisfied with simply recreating a digital world analogous to reality. Being able to define the rules of an entire world gives metaverse builders an opportunity to improve and make safer how we interact — and are permitted to interact — with each other. “Being able to just follow somebody without their consent is actually kind of scary and dangerous, right?” said Daniel Liebeskind, CEO of metaverse platform Topia. “In Topia, the way we build those kinds of features, safety and consent are one of our big values.” To illustrate his point, he described Topia’s soon-to-come “follow” function, which requires both parties to consent before one user is able to follow another around the virtual space.
In addition to rules governing interpersonal interaction, the very physics of a virtual world can help enforce safety and consent: Liebeskind cited the example of the virtual reality platform AltspaceVR, which adjusted how avatars physically interact with each other after some users harassed others by repeatedly hitting them in the face. “The way they combated that is when your hand gets too close to somebody’s face, the hand goes away,” Liebeskind said. “It just becomes an arm, basically.”
Irina Shames, head of strategy and revenue at production company 3BLACKDOT and an instructor of digital media and entrepreneurship at UCLA, believes that incorporating consent into metaverse platforms is both a moral imperative and a sound business decision. “Bumble is the first company that introduced consent in dating, by allowing female users to exercise consent in an empowering way,” Shames said. “And that really paid off, right? Bumble is now a multi-billion-dollar company.” In other words, Shames said, users will flock to a platform that allows them to feel safe and in control.
Building a safe, yet social metaverse is not as easy as simply making all one-on-one interactions require mutual consent. A fully closed-off social system would make it difficult for users to interact with strangers and connect with large groups, a hallmark of proto-metaverse platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox. “People are going to be people — they need to express themselves within a set of guidelines,” said Mike Schabel, CEO of interactive event company Kiswe. “As a technology provider, what we’re saying is, let’s go develop a toolset that allows our brand partners to make the decision on their own as to what they want for their community.”
The key to making the metaverse safer without alienating users is to improve its framework in careful steps, beginning with measures that prioritize safety over flexibility and pulling things back from there, according to Andy Tian, CEO of mobile entertainment firm Asia Innovations Group. “If it’s unsafe, there’s no way back from there,” Tian said. “If it’s restrictive, it’s kind of okay — you can live with it.”
Regardless of exactly how metaverse companies code consent into their platforms, it may be critical to have these conversations before it is too late to work them into the bedrock of the metaverse. “The decisions that are made right now are going to make a huge difference to what the internet itself is — what human connection and socialization is like a decade from now,” Liebeskind said. “So all if this is sort of forming, and we’re kind of drawing lines in the sand around our values as a company.”
‘If we can pave the way’: How OKCupid is using its app and its ads to fight for abortion rights
The online dating platform yesterday sent in-app notifications to all U.S. users encouraging them to donate to Planned Parenthood.
Retail brands rush to cover abortion care, but not all of their workers may be covered
What’s not immediately clear from some of these post Roe announcements is how many employees will be covered by these new policies.
Days Inn seeks unique ways to stand out as people return to traveling
Days Inn is introducing a new, limited-edition amenity: a pillow that compliments guests. It's part of a strategy to find unique ways to stand out and help drive brand awareness.
SponsoredWhy the caliber of content is paramount for advertisers
Agata Brodniewska, brand safety manager, Dailymotion Content is king when attracting consumers but is equally essential when courting advertisers. While both stakeholders want many of the same things, they most notably want relevant content they can count on to deliver an accurate and honest message without confusion or misinformation. This is especially important for advertisers […]
‘Clients are being cautious’: Roe vs. Wade overturn has advertisers evaluating ads, pausing spending
Some marketers, agency execs are also reconsidering their blocklists, adding phrases related to the Supreme Court to their lists to stem potential brand safety issues.
‘We anticipate this percentage will increase’: QuickBooks will allocate more fees to LGBTQ+ influencers
DTC business QuickBooks has found that the more diverse its influencer roster gets, the more effective it is, with content from these influencers more likely to spark a relevant response from viewers.