Meta’s Nick Clegg Pledges To Protect Metaverse Users

The senior executive made the comments in an interview on the company's plans to safeguard the novel platform

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Published: November 3, 2021

Demond Cureton

Meta is currently developing methods to protect users in the Metaverse, Nick Clegg, Head of Global Affairs and Communications, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Speaking in a Zoom interview, Clegg said his enterprise would continue to build privacy and safety protocols as it could take up to 15 years to fully realise the Metaverse.

He explained further, stating,

“This time we can work with academics, we can work with lawmakers, we can work with regulators together and collaboratively, to put the guard rails in place before the technology matures”

He added that the Menlo Park-based firm did not have an “either-or choice” between fulfilling its current responsibilities and investing in the successor to the Internet.

The Metaverse, an interconnected and pervasive platform of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality worlds, should be “an interoperable ecosystem,” he said, adding the Metaverse company would aim to build content standards consistent with rival and partner enterprises.

Protocols and standards set to facilitate interoperability would also become “some of the most difficult and most important policy work,” he concluded.

Meta and the XR Association

The news comes just days before Facebook’s Connect Event in late October, where the former Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrats party leader tweeted the Metaverse would not “be built by Facebook alone” and pledged to work with “experts in [government], industry and academia” to tackle issues on inclusiveness, interoperability, and empowerment.

The senior Meta exec added his company would work with the Future of XR Advisory Council (XRAC), a branch of the Washington, DC-based XR Association (XRA), to reach its targets for the Metaverse.

The Council would work to define the growing XR ecosystem and advise the XRA on crucial best practices and policy development to mature the progress of the industry.

The XRAC would also build the Council and gain support from members of the XR community up to the end of 2021 and launch its first projects in the first quarter of 2022, the XRA announced in October.

Elizabeth Hyman, Chief Executive of the XR Association, stated the industry had “just begun to scratch the surface” of the potential of XR technologies, adding there were “critical questions and conversations” to explore about the technology’s impact on the economy, society, and industry.”

She continued, explaining in a statement,

“As XR technology becomes more ubiquitous our industry is dedicated to ensuring the responsible development of the technology. We strive to make sure that XR is safe, inclusive, and respectful for all users and the XRAC will play an important role in that effort.”

The XRAC will also launch an initial steering committee of C-Suite executives from the global tech industry along with key leaders from academia, government, and civil society.

Members of the steering committee will include Dan Guenther, Managing Director & Extended Reality Lead at Accenture, James Hairston, Director of Facebook Reality Labs Policy, Cathy Hackl, Chief Metaverse Officer at Futures Intelligence Group, as well as representatives from Google, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Microsoft, and the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

MetaLeaks Scandal and Ethical Pledge

The comments come after Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, urged Mark Zuckerberg, Meta Chief Executive, to resign at the Web Summit in Lisbon, reports revealed.

She added Meta should devote its resources to protecting safety on existing social media platforms rather than aiming to create the Metaverse, she said as quoted by Reuters.

Prior to the company’s rebrand, Meta pledged $50 million USD to “ethically” and responsibly build the Metaverse along with several key supranational global organisations.

The news comes after Haugen recently leaked a massive amount of files on Facebook’s privacy and security operations and alleged the tech giant had failed to act on misinformation or protecting users’ mental health while using the social media platform, following the death of a young woman.

Zuckerberg slammed the accusations in an third quarter earnings call, stating Haugen and the media were launching “a coordinated effort” with leaked documents to “paint a false picture of our company.”



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