Facebook’s metaverse is reportedly working on technology that could involve realistic interaction such as body pose tracking and clothing that wrinkles with movement, but it could bring with it a trove of privacy concerns.
Facebook, which now goes by the parent company name Meta, has in the last few months had hundreds of new patents approved by the United States government, according to a report by Business Insider.
The publication said the patents range from smaller headsets to hyper-realistic avatars and clothing that would require body mapping.
While we could see technology such as gloves that simulate touch making the metaverse feel and sound real, none of the patents mentioned privacy or user safety.
Business Insider also reported that while there is very little detail about privacy or the user’s data that is collected, there is lots of built-in advertising, raising questions about what will become of the inordinate amount of data that will be collected by the tech giant.
“We think these companies have data access now — no,” Georgetown Professor Jeanine Turner told Insider when Facebooks’ metaverse was first announced last year. “It’s mindblowing what they will have.”
Owen Vaughan, the director of research at the data security firm nChain, said that because “your data is their product,” Facebook’s metaverse “opens up a lot more risk in terms of privacy and security.”
“It’s very concerning that security and privacy [are] not there in the patents,” he told Insider.
Facebook announced it was changing its parent name to Meta in October last year, as the company faced allegations it put profit before people’s safety by the ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen.
Meta denied the allegations.
The company’s AI algorithm, which arguably leads people to extreme content, has also been under the spotlight.
Concern over data privacy in the metaverse is growing as Meta develops into the virtual reality world with new hardware and other technology that could see more sensors in people’s homes that can collect massive amounts of data.
In November, Haugen told the Associated Press that the metaverse could give Facebook another monopoly online as it is addictive and could take more personal data from users.
She also said the metaverse is a screen that the company can hide behind as it faces mounting pressure since she blew the whistle on internal practices.
“If you don’t like the conversation, you try to change the conversation,” the former product manager-turned-whistleblower said.
Meta has denied it was trying to divert attention away from the troubles it faces by pushing the metaverse, saying it had been working on it for a long time internally.