Facebook’s track record means metaverse scandals are an ‘inevitable conclusion’, says Proton chief


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Meta Having A Scandal Around Its Metaverse Platforms Is A ‘Won Conclusion’, Predicts Proton general manager Andy Yen.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg said an “embodied Internet” would be the future of the technology, but Mr Yen, whose company runs the Protonmail encrypted email client and ProtonVPN, said the company could still fail.

“Things have come and gone in technology. You may remember that almost 10 years ago there was Google Glass…before people realized how scary it was,” he said The Independentreferring to Google’s augmented reality headset launched in 2013.

“It’s hard to stay at this point, what’s the fashion, and what’s going to stay. The Metaverse is new and whimsical, but will it even be relevant five years from now? I think it’s very early to really know if any of these trends are going to be sustainable and even if they come back and say a decade, some trends come too soon. Microsoft had a tablet in the late 90s [but] it was not the right time. It’s about “right time, right place”.

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has been building its virtual world for some time, building on the headsets it bought when buying Oculus – now renamed Meta Quest. But Mr Yen said the “surveillance capitalism” business models of companies such as Google and Meta would not be tolerated in real life.

“If you take the analogy with Google, it’s someone who follows you every day, recording everything you say and every place you visit. In real life, we would never tolerate that”, had– he previously entrusted Wired.

“On the internet, sort of, because it’s not visible, we tend to think it’s not there. But the monitoring you don’t notice tends to be much more insidious than the monitoring you do.

It is possible that scandals in the Internet incarnate will make more people aware of the amount of their information monitored online.

“Given what we’ve seen on Facebook in their track record, they’re going to have some kind of scandal that’ll probably blow something in their face, right? And get us some attention. That’s is probably an early conclusion. But what it is, I can’t say,” Mr Yen told The Independent.

Meta has already been forced to add “personal boundaries” in his virtual reality Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues platforms that prevent avatars from coming into close contact with each other.

It came after Nina Jane Patel, a psychotherapist who conducts research on the metaverse, wrote a mean article about the “surreal nightmare” of being “gang raped” in Horizon Venues.

At the time, Facebook said it was “committed to creating” a safe experience and would “continue to make improvements as we learn more about how people interact in these spaces, especially when it comes to helping people report things easily and reliably.”

While many companies have promoted the metaverse, Yen also said Proton will take a more cautious approach. “It is very difficult to forecast in this area for us with limited resources. We look for long-term sustainable trends. So we don’t jump into portable devices, we don’t jump into the metaverse or those things until we see that. If you jump on every new fad, you’re always chasing the next big thing,” he told The Independent.

Meta isn’t the only company developing virtual and augmented reality technologies. Rumor has it that Apple’s augmented reality headset could launching this year with ‘realityOS’; Google bought smart glasses company North in 2020, assuming a sequel to Google Glass might be in the works, and Snapchat thinks augmented reality glasses could become acceptable as early as 2029.

Mr. Yen, however, is more skeptical. “I think there will always be space for the real world,” he said. “I have a hard time imagining some kind of world where everyone has the augmented reality thing and they’re just stuck there. I just don’t see it.

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