That’s how we’ve described Facebook – now Meta – in these pages.
Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg pretends his mission is to unite people.
But his company exists to harvest data from its users to sell to advertisers and political campaign strategists… and manipulate how we think and act.
Today, the 37-year-old tech gazillionaire can spy only on what you do with your keyboard, mouse, and screen.
So he knows what links you click and what you type in chats.
But as scary as that is, it’s nothing compared to what he’ll be capable of when you strap on a virtual reality (VR) headset and enter the Zuck’s version of the metaverse.
Today, we’ll look at what’s coming… and why it’s so dangerous for your privacy.
I (Chris Lowe) will also show you why alternate worlds should leave you optimistic about the metaverse.
If you’ve been with us for some time, you know all about it. We first put this emerging tech megatrend on your radar last September.
But for newer readers, think of the metaverse as an internet you step inside.
You won’t just scroll through web pages or watch videos… You’ll enter 3D virtual worlds as an avatar – a digital representation of yourself.
Some of the customization options for an avatar. Source: Spatial
There, you’ll be able to meet colleagues… shop… and hang out with friends.
And the Zuck is all in on the idea.
Last October, he changed the name of his company from Facebook to Meta. And he announced that it’d spend $10 billion a year to build its version of the metaverse.
He says it’s because he and his company want to make it easier to socialize online.
But the truth is the metaverse lets Facebook harvest even more of your data. That’s thanks to VR tech…
It’s also allowing Zuckerberg to unleash his most intimate and powerful digital surveillance yet.
Meta’s Oculus VR headsets have sensors that create a “heat map” of everywhere you look while wearing them.
And that’s not all your head movements reveal about you. Researchers at Cornell and Stanford found that these motions can measure your anxiety in a virtual classroom.
Developers are even creating tools to track your eye and facial muscle movements when you’re wearing a VR headset… and read your emotions from them.
That’s going by research from Michael Madary and Thomas Metzinger at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany.
VR tech is more than just goggles. There are also gloves and other wearables.
And Madary and Metzinger’s research shows how the way you move can identify you as accurately as your fingerprint can.
It isn’t far from the camera tech the Chinese Communist Party uses to identify citizens by how they walk.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Meta some creepy patents last month.
As British newspaper the Financial Times reported it…
One Meta patent, granted on January 4, lays out a system for tracking a user’s facial expressions through a headset that will then “adapt media content” based on those responses.
There is a “wearable magnetic sensor system” to be placed around a torso for “body pose tracking”.
That’s according to our tech investing expert, Jeff Brown.
Jeff is a Silicon Valley insider and early-stage tech investor. He’s racked up triple-digit wins in bleeding-edge-tech stocks in his model portfolios.
But he’s aware of the dark side of tech, too. And since he joined Legacy Research six years ago, he’s been warning about how Meta and other Big Tech companies are destroying privacy.
Here he is with more…
Meta ran experiments to alter users’ News Feeds to see if it would impact their moods and views. With the ability to monitor facial expressions, reactions, and posture, Meta could further try to control our minds.
If it sees events in the metaverse make us more likely to buy a certain product, it could create those events and then show us an ad for that product.
To me, that’s an attempt to influence our subconscious. A form of mind control, in other words.
It could allow the Zuck to spy on billions of people more invasively than he does now.
But there’s a silver lining. Jeff again…
I think these plans will work. Most people will focus on the immersive experience with friends. They won’t realize Meta is manipulating them.
The good news is we can choose not to engage in Facebook’s metaverse. There will be many other metaverse worlds that respect our privacy.
That’s thanks to the same secure tech that underpins all cryptos – blockchains.
It’s a virtual world where folks can buy, sell, and develop digital land in the form of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.
From there, they can make money from content and apps they create for other users.
It’s completely different from Meta’s data harvesting model. It doesn’t profit off its users’ personal info. So it doesn’t need to spy on you.
And as the name and underlying blockchain tech suggest, Decentraland is decentralized.
There’s no CEO calling the shots. Decentraland isn’t even a company. It’s a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO.
A DAO has no executives or management teams. Instead of a CEO calling the shots, users own the organization and vote on any changes.
And as Jeff has been spreading the word on, DAOs will be common in the metaverse. Jeff…
Facebook is too big and well-funded not to play a role in the metaverse. But it wants to gain more access to our lives only so it can profit from collecting more of our data.
The version of the metaverse that will win out is distributed and accessible to all. DAOs will play a big role in this. They allow users to share in the remarkable wealth creation that has already begun. [Morgan Stanley (MS) projects the metaverse will have an $8 trillion addressable market by 2030.]
I’ll have more for you on these blockchain-based metaverse projects in future updates.
Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning more about the role blockchains will play in the metaverse… make sure to check out Jeff’s presentation on NFTs.
February 3, 2022