Kavya Pearlman on “How can we make the metaverse safe?”

Poulomi Chatterjee, a Technology Journalist with Analytics India Magazine, covered Meta’s challenge to create a new virtual universe while ensuring safety and trust, a mission that the Zuckerberg-led company has failed to achieve with its previous iterations.

As the article states,

Last year in November, Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of global affairs, said the company is working on building safety and privacy protections for the metaverse. Already under fire from lawmakers and regulators over privacy concerns and the inability to curb hate speech on its social media platform Facebook, the advent of the metaverse has raised further questions about security. In response, Andrew Bosworth, the man steering the company’s shift towards AR and VR efforts, said that even though supervising how users “speak or behave on a large scale is practically impossible,” Facebook is the company best suited to the task.

Physical threats

As technology advances, a host of more serious problems are expected to surface. Research showed that virtual attacks could transform into physical attacks. An attacker could reset the physical boundaries of hardware by manipulating the VR platform like a user could be pushed down a flight of stairs. 

As augmented reality arrives on the scene, users could potentially be misdirected into dangerous situations like robberies. Even hypothetical attacks could leave users with a feeling of nausea from motion sickness. Kavya Pearlman, founder and CEO of XR Safety Initiative, explained, “We know that people could experience motion sickness in VR. The creator could have intentionally embedded something that, when you click on it, makes you sick.” 

Safety standards

In order to protect the data and privacy of users, companies will need to do more than just policy changes, Pearlman said. A trusted ecosystem must be created that can build algorithms, frameworks and regulations to address the privacy and security issues. Serge Gianchandani, co-founder of MetaMall, a metaverse startup that offers high-end real estate and experiences said, “We feel that the metaverse can be made very secure with the right choice on tech and protocols. We follow both privacy by design and privacy by default methodology.  Wherever it is not necessary,  default is masking the user details and allowing the user to configure his privacy settings.”

But the Global Head of Safety at Meta, Antigone Davis, stated that building a safe Metaverse can’t be done alone, companies have to partner with government, industry, academia and civil society. Policy experts have set down certain goals that align with the idea of a secure metaverse: determining who has the authority to make policies, fixing the current infrastructure issues, better management and protection of digital identities and framing trust policies for virtual reality. The questions about what these rules will be are many, and it will be interesting to see how cybersecurity shapes up to answer them.