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Why Frances Haugen Is Super Scared About Facebook’s Metaverse

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My friend and colleague Billy Perrigo has long written about the perils of Big Tech: how it spreads misinformation, fosters extremist networks worldwide and even threatens democracy. Last month, Billy traveled to Paris to interview the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for the cover story of our Dec. 6 issue. He talked to Haugen about a wide range of topics, including Facebook’s version of the metaverse—but that part of the conversation didn’t make it into the issue. So this week, I’m handing the newsletter over to Billy for more on his conversation with Haugen. —Andrew R. Chow
——
In a glitzy October keynote presentation, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared as a cartoon avatar informing us that someday, the way we interact with our friends, work with our colleagues and relax in our spare time will no longer just happen in real life, nor on 2D social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Instead, we will inhabit a 3D virtual world with endless possibilities. The mission of Facebook—now Meta—would be to build that world, Zuckerberg said.
So when I traveled to Paris to interview Frances Haugen in mid-November, the following questions were on my mind: Would Facebook succeed in its quest to shed its toxic brand? Would people be happy to forget about all the revelations of the last five years? Above all: Would people trust Zuckerberg to build a new (virtual) reality that was safe for both its individual users and society at large?
Haugen, of course, is the former Facebook employee who leaked tens of thousands of pages of company documents to the U.S. authorities and the press this fall. The documents showed that Facebook—which renamed itself in the wake of the revelations—knew far more about the harms of its products, especially Facebook and Instagram, than it ever let on in public.
When I asked her about the metaverse, Haugen’s answer focused on the extra forms of surveillance that would be necessary for any meaningful kind of metaverse experience. “I am worried that if companies become metaverse companies, individuals won’t get to consent anymore on whether or not to have Facebook’s sensors—their microphones in their homes,” Haugen told me. “This company—which has already shown it lies to us whenever it’s in its own interests—we’re supposed to put cameras and microphones for them in our homes?” she said.
I also asked Haugen: what kinds of safety risks don’t exist today, but might exist in a future where we live parts of our lives in the metaverse? “I’m super scared,” she said. Then, she launched into a thought experiment:
“So, just imagine this with me. When you go into the metaverse, your avatar is a little more handsome or pretty than yourself. You have better clothes than we have in reality. The apartment is more stylish, more calm. And you take your headset off and you go to brush your teeth at the end of the night. And maybe you just don’t like yourself in the mirror as much. That cycle… I’m super worried that people are going to look at their apartment, which isn’t as nice, and look at their face or their body, which isn’t as nice, and say: ‘I would rather have my headset on.’ And I haven’t heard Facebook articulate any plan on what to do about that.”
Haugen’s answer vividly took me back to one of the documents that made up part of her whistleblower disclosures. It was about the impact of Instagram on the mental health of teenagers, particularly teenage girls. Facebook’s own researchers had run some surveys and found, among other shocking statistics, that of teenage girls who said they experienced bad feelings about their bodies, 32% said Instagram made them feel worse. Among teens who said they had suicidal thoughts, 13% of American users and 6% of British users traced those thoughts to Instagram, the documents (first reported by the Wall Street Journal) showed.
In the wake of the Instagram revelations, Facebook said that overall research has shown social media usage can be positive, as well as detrimental to mental health, and that it is experimenting with new ways to make Instagram safer for vulnerable users. On Dec. 7, Instagram said it would begin “nudging teens toward different topics if they’ve been dwelling on one topic for a long time,” and would soon be launching new tools for parents and guardians to “get them more involved” in what their teenagers do on the platform.
Two months after the disclosures, it is unclear to what extent Facebook is prepared to admit that its platforms are responsible for real-world harms. “The individual humans are the ones who choose to believe or not believe a thing; they are the ones who choose to share or not share a thing,” said Andrew Bosworth, the Meta executive currently responsible for augmented and virtual reality in an interview with Axios on HBO that aired Sunday.
When the company even acknowledges the harms it contributes to, its fixes are often retrospective and partial. Should the public trust the company will do things differently with its version of the metaverse? I asked Haugen whether she trusted Zuckerberg when he said, in his keynote, that he would build safety into Facebook’s metaverse from the beginning.
“I think the question is not whether or not I believe him or not,” Haugen said. “I believe any technology with that much influence deserves oversight from the public.”
That message cuts to the heart of a systemic problem that has always been true for technology. Technologists build the future. Democratic and civic institutions take time to step in and set limits about what is acceptable in that new world—including protections for vulnerable people, safeguards against misinformation and polarization and restrictions on monopolistic power. Facebook jettisoned its controversial motto “move fast and break things” in 2014, but the phrase still neatly encapsulates how the company—and the wider industry—works when introducing new tech to the world.
But Haugen has some solutions for the metaverse that could enable regulators to balance the pros of technological innovation with the cons of societal damage. “At a minimum, they should have to tell us what the real harms are,” Haugen says, referring to obligations she would like to see regulators set on Facebook. “They should also have to listen to us when we articulate harms. And we should have a process where we can have a conversation in a structured way.”
But regulation is only one part of the puzzle. A separate and more intractable problem is the issue of prioritization, which can only ever really be set at the executive level, both in terms of investment and company culture. For years, Facebook has been saying that fixing its platform is its number one priority.
But in his keynote, Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s number one priority was now building the metaverse. He didn’t outwardly articulate that safety had been downgraded, but you only have to look at the numbers to see where the problem lies. Recently, Facebook has been rebutting journalists’ questions with the statistic that it now spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. In October, Facebook said it would spend at least $10 billion on the metaverse in 2021, a number that it said would only increase in coming years.
You do the math.

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Top 3 Metaverse Crypto Coins Below $0.01 to Watch in June 2022 – The VR Soldier

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Cryptocurrency markets continue to trade sideways this week, with Bitcoin and Ethereum managing a spectacular recovery after bottoming out on June 18th. There are several popular niches for crypto tokens, including NFTs, AI & Big Data, DeFi, and Metaverse. Metaverse crypto coins are showing green across the board, making it an excellent opportunity to cover several undervalued projects with a unit price below 1 cent to watch in June 2022.
Note: The list below is ordered by the unit price of each project, lowest to highest.
Launched in April 2019, Verasity (VRA) is a blockchain company and Metaverse crypto coin looking to build an entirely new experience in AdTech, Esports, and digital rights management.
Verasity features its unique Proof-of-View protocol, which can identify fraudulent online traffic and discard it from analytics platforms, thereby increasing ad revenue for publishers and conversions for advertisers. The PoV protocol also featured NFT authentication features, which help identify fraudulent and copycat collections looking to capitalize on a primary project and its community.
verasity proof-of-view
Due to its unique nature, Verasity’s Proof-of-View technology passed a patent examination by the Chinese Patent Office in January 2022, signaling the tremendous potential for the protocol and the project.
For its product layer, Verasity includes VeraEsports – an Esports platform partnering with some of the most prominent players in the game, such as PUBG Mobile, Valorant, CS:GO, etc. Verasity also features its online crypto wallet – VeraWallet, with guaranteed security and growth for your portfolio. VeraWallet is an ultra-secure, all-in-one digital currency wallet for people who love esports and NFTs.
Moreover, VRA is one of the top Metaverse crypto coins with some of the highest staking yields, offering up to 18.25% on VRA tokens until April 2023. Users can stake their VRA tokens in Verasity’s VeraWallet.
verasity veraviews
Last but not least, Verasity features an earning platform – VeraViews, which enables users to earn VRA tokens for watching content online.
Verasity currently features a market cap of $57 million with a 24-hour trading volume of $6.8 million. Its low unit price of $0.0055 make it a highly undervalued project worth keeping an eye on in June 2022.
VRA is the primary ERC-20 Ethereum-based digital asset for the platform. VRA can be used to earn rewards, payment for various services, etc.
You can purchase VRA on Gate.io, Poloniex, KuCoin, Hotcoin Global, OKX, Bittrex, etc.
Launched in September 2021, Star Atlas (ATLAS) is one of the market’s most anticipated Metaverse crypto games. It features some of the best designs out of all the Metaverse crypto coins and includes a robust NFT marketplace where users can purchase in-game assets to be used in the game when it’s released.
star atlas
Star Atlas, by far, has one of the best design teams behind the project, and we recommend checking out the platform if you haven’t yet. The game is currently in development, but users can check out the website, a few teaser trailers, and its NFT marketplace.
Star Atlas is built on the Solana blockchain, so to interact with its NFT dApp, we recommend connecting with a Solana-supported Web3 wallet like Phantom.
The game itself involves strategy and exploration. Users can explore Star Atlas’ planets in its Metaverse, complete missions, collect resources, and earn rewards via the game’s play-to-earn model.
One unique feature about Star Atlas is its recent partnership with The Sandbox, one of the highest-valued Metaverse crypto projects on the market. The partnership will revolutionize interoperability between the Ethereum and Solana blockchains in a first-of-its-kind collaboration.
Star Atlas includes a dual-token economy consisting of two Solana-based tokens: ATLAS and POLIS. While ATLAS is the primary utility asset for Star Atlas, which enables users to buy NFTs on the marketplace and interact with its Metaverse, POLIS is the governance token providing voting power to holders looking to participate in the Star Atlas DAO.
star atlas
With a current market capitalization of $15 million and a unit price of $0.007, Star Atlas is highly undervalued. Star Atlas has tremendous long-term potential, and we recommend keeping a close eye on the project in June 2022.
You can buy ATLAS on FTX, Gate.io, Kraken, Raydium, LBank, MEXC, Ascend EX (BitMax), OKcoin, Paribu, BitMart, CoinEx, Bitrue, XT.COM, CoinTiger, etc.
Launched in July 2021, Metahero (HERO) is building an ultra-realistic Metaverse enabling users to scan themselves and other real-world objects into Metahero’s digital realm with extreme precision.
metahero and wolf digital world partnership
Metahero partnered with Wolf Digital World, the leaders in 3D photogrammetric scanning technology already utilized by AAA game developers like CD Project, the team behind Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher Series, to create realistic animations and 3D models.
Metahero features its Metaverse called Everdome, which completed a presale raising over $9 million in its seed funding round, signaling the tremendous community support for the project.
While Metahero’s primary utility asset is HERO, Everdome’s token is DOME. Both tokens are BEP-20 BNB Chain crypto assets as Metahero and Everdome are built on the BNB chain. Metahero is one of the most underrated Metaverse crypto coins on BNB, and we recommend keeping a close eye on it in June 2022.
Metahero is undervalued now, as the bear market pushed its valuation to $50 million. With a unit price of $0.0099, it’s a tremendous low-priced coin to watch in June 2022.
In recent news, Metahero announced that it appointed Mariusz Król, the founder of WOLF Group, as the CEO of Metahero. According to the announcement:
“Both teams will continue to deliver at the highest level, each with a unilateral focus, in order to increase and optimize output for both projects.”
You can purchase the HERO token on KuCoin, Gate.io, Bybit, LBank, PancakeSwap (V2), Crypto.com, AAX, CoinEx, Biswap, XT.COM, etc.
Disclosure: This is not trading or investment advice. Always do your research before buying any Metaverse crypto coins.
Follow us on Twitter @thevrsoldier to stay updated with the latest Crypto, NFT, AI, and Metaverse news!
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© 2022 The VR Soldier
© 2022 The VR Soldier

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Facebook's Metaverse is Expanding the Attack Surface – Trend Micro

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Use the CRI to assess your organization’s preparedness against attacks, and get a snapshot of cyber risk across organizations globally.
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Privacy & Risks
Understand the cybersecurity risks in the Metaverse
By: William Malik August 08, 2022 Read time:  ( words)
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Thirty years ago, Paramount trademarked the name “Holodeck.” An artifact of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the holodeck was a magical, computer-generated world where characters lived in another realm – either a historical place or an entirely fictious domain, based on old movies, books, or a character’s imagination. As in much science fiction, the holodeck’s inner workings were never explained, except when dealing with a malfunction: the safety protocols stopped working, an alien took over the controls, a fictional character escaped, all of which put one or more character’s lives at risk.
Also, thirty years ago, Gartner published a research report “Client Server and Cooperative Processing.” It described the underlying model behind client/server computing and described the forms simple two-tiered architectures might take. As a side effect, the report described why client/server computing makes sense (as opposed to doing everything on one machine). Different types of computers have a different ration of computational power to available data. Historically, mainframes tend to be data-rich (tuned to run at 100% processor utilization) and MIPS-poor, while PCs tend to be MIPS-rich (rarely exceeding significant processor utilization) and data-poor – by a factor of about 3,000. If the computational problem involves lots of data but relatively little processing power, a mainframe-style computer fits the bill. If the problem involves lots of processing but not much data, a PC makes sense. And if the problem requires lots of data and lots of processing, then split the problem into two parts – and put the data-heavy part on one, and the compute-intensive part on the other.
Enter the Metaverse
The holodeck is the limiting case of a computational problem requiring lots of data and lots of processing. We can be sure that it is implemented using a multi-tiered architecture. Which brings us to the metaverse, our real-world version of the holodeck. The metaverse will provide a rich, immersive experience when the user wears AR glasses and gloves with haptic feedback (local client computing for compute-intensive tasks) fronting a richly connected network of servers holding vast amounts of data about the background, landscape, avatars, and the physics of the virtual environment.
From a security perspective the metaverse presents every possible attack surface. The primary IT components connect using IP but the many devices needed to flesh out the illusion will run a multitude of industrial control system protocols. Cost pressures will drive vendors building the infrastructure to source low-cost IIoT components, which still lack basic security and privacy controls. Even in the holodeck, advanced authentication was easily forged. Man-in-the-middle attacks will proliferate. Privacy will be non-existent, because people react to sensory input faster than they know, and the local client hardware will pick up and remember those reactions. While people are exploring their virtual world, the virtual world is constantly monitoring and evaluating the individual’s likes, wants, and preferences. The mountain of profile data will make marketing vastly more persuasive, not just for consumer products but also for political advertisement targeting. Vance Packard would be in awe of the metaverse’s power.
Security conventionally guarantees that data shall not be lost, altered, or inadvertently disclosed. Adding the industrial control system mandate for safety brings us to a new model for cybersecurity fitting the threats the metaverse will unleash. Since effective cybersecurity combines technology with policy and user education, we are a long way from securing the metaverse. The architecture is just now coming to light. The proper procedures are far from a first draft, and regulations a decade behind that. For now, the strongest link remains the people using it. Be careful, and thoughtful, about what you want to share and how you would keep a secret in this new virtual world. “Arch!” doesn’t work quite yet.
ReferencesHOLODECK Trademark 74327473, filed Oct 31, 1992.
“Client/Server and Cooperative Processing – a Guide for the Perplexed,” William Malik, Tony Percy, W. Roy Schulte, Gartner, Stamford, CT. October 1992
The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard, David McKay Co., New York, 1957.

What do you think? Let me know @WilliamMalikTM
William Malik
VP, Infrastructure Strategies

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AR Service Provider Flowing Cloud Eyes to Become First Metaverse-Related Stock Listed in Hong Kong – Pandaily

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Pandaily
Everything about China's Innovation
On September 22, a document from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEx) showed that Flowing Cloud, a Chinese tech firm, passed the listing hearing and it will start trading on the main board of the exchange at the end of this month. The firm thus may become “the first Metaverse-related stock listed in Hong Kong.”
Founded in 2008, the firm switched its focus from the game business to AR/VR content and services in April 2017, completing the transformation in May 2019. Now its business mainly covers AR/VR marketing services, AR/VR content and AR/VR SaaS (software as a service).
In view of the fact that AR/VR content and services belongs to the Metaverse ecosystem, the firm has started to build its own Metaverse platform, called Flowing Cloud Metaverse, and will release it in the future. There is a virtual commercial market that allows users to move freely and become merchants, providing access to Metaverse for enterprises and individual users. The platform will connect them together.
The firm also provides AR/VR SaaS services. Recently, it announced a strategic cooperation agreement with the short video sharing app Kuaishou. The contents of the deal include providing convenient editing tools for Kuaishou content creators based on a SaaS platform, which is widely applicable to panoramic pictures and other immersive videos. Creators can make 3D models, add special effects and use other interactive functions.
Flowing Cloud currently maintains relatively considerable revenue growth and profitability. According to its prospectus, the revenues of Feitian Yundong were 251 million yuan ($35.5 million) in 2019, 339 million yuan in 2020 and 595 million yuan in 2021. During the period, the net profit was 42 million yuan, 60 million yuan and 72 million yuan respectively. In the first quarter of 2022, its revenue increased by 64.75% from 139 million yuan in the same period of 2021 to 229 million yuan; The net profit increased by 315.78% from about 9.19 million yuan in the same period of 2021 to 38.21 million yuan.
SEE ALSO: Inkeverse Launches Social Metaverse Product Targeted at Gen Z
The net proceeds from this IPO will be mainly for enhancing R&D capabilities and improving technical infrastructure. The firm will enhance its sales and marketing functions, promote potential mergers, acquisitions and strategic investments, and develop the above-mentioned Metaverse platform. Further, the funds will be added to working capital and general corporate purposes.
Investment and financing in the field of Metaverse are in full swing. According to the Investment and Financing Data Report of Metaverse released by Chinese market research firm 100EC in July this year, the financing amount of the Metaverse in China has reached 5.46 billion yuan. In China, there are 160,000 digital human business enterprises and more than 20 provincial governments involved in the building up of the Metaverse. Dora Liu, Deputy CEO and Chief Quality and Transformation Officer at Deloitte China, pointed out that in 2030, China’s Metaverse market will reach 40 trillion yuan, which will count 20% of the country’s GDP, and electronic products and wearable devices in Metaverse will be worth $100 billion.
Domestic leading enterprises are also speeding up the layout of Metaverse. In June this year, Tencent was reported to have set up an “XR-ExtendedReality” department, which is tasked with building an extended reality business including software and hardware for Tencent and will become part of the company’s Interactive Entertainment Group (IEG). In addition, in September 2021, Alibaba launched AYAYI, a digital manager, and in March 2022, it led the investment in Nreal, a Chinese mixed reality (MR) technology startup. Baidu, ByteDance and NetEase have also invested in this field.
Builtopia, a metaverse technology service provider, has recently completed a seed round financing worth tens of millions of yuan led by Shunwei Capital. The funds will be mainly used for technology upgrades and marketing.
On July 13, the HASHII encrypted digital print was jointly released by Inmyshow Digital, a new media marketing company, and Skyworth, a television manufacturer.
This week: Tencent’s NFT marketplace Huanhe to close down, Zipmex becomes latest crypto exchange to halt withdrawals, Hong Kong monetary chief said crypto and DeFi won’t disappear, and more.
The Sandbox announced a new partnership on July 27 with global gaming company Gravity, aimed at bringing Ragnarok, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game created by Gravity, into the metaverse.

A Guide to China's Tech World


TechBuzz China by Pandaily

Pandaily is a tech media based in Beijing. Our mission is to deliver premium content and contextual insights on China’s technology scene to the worldwide tech community.
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