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Meta Patents Metaverse Tools amid Privacy Fears

Meta Patents Metaverse Tools amid Privacy Fears

Meta Platforms Inc has reportedly begun exploring new Metaverse technologies capable of producing hyper-realistic real-time 3D content for clothing and body posturing, Business Insider reported on Tuesday.

The report noted the Menlo Park, California-based company had filed a list of patents for technologies such as hyper-realistic avatars and smaller headsets with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The news comes after it announced in November last year it had created a material and sensor capable of producing haptic-based feedback for future Metaverse experiences.

The technologies have been revealed just months after Meta’s Connect Event in October last year, which unveiled a stellar product lineup of new Metaverse communications platforms and avatar technologies.

Ongoing Concerns over Privacy, User Protections

According to Business Insider, the Metaverse firm failed to provide details on user privacy and data collection, and also noted Meta would include in-headset adverts, sparking major concerns.

Speaking in the report, Jeanine Turner, Professor at Georgetown University, said last year,

“We think these companies have data access now — no. It’s mindblowing what they will have”

Owen Vaughan, Director of Research for nChain, added as quoted by the report that users “data is their product” and that Facebook’s Metaverse plans open up “a lot more risk in terms of privacy and security.”

He concluded, stating,

“It’s very concerning that security and privacy [are] not there in the patents”

The news comes after numerous organisations, shareholders, and governments pressured Meta to guarantee protections for its users as the company builds the Metaverse, namely after a young woman died from reported exposure to harmful content and online abuse while using Facebook.

Former Facebook data engineer Frances Haugen also leaked a massive trove of documents and accused the tech giant of failing to protect users on its platform, which Mark Zuckerberg, Meta Founder and Chief Executive, has sharply and repeatedly denied, citing alleged media efforts to harm his company’s reputation.

Meta’s global comms chief, Nick Clegg, responded to the allegations, stating his enterprise would work to protect user data rights and guarantee protection for young users

He added Meta could potentially work along with major XR organisations such as the Washington, DC-based XR Association and others, just months after the company pledged $50 million USD to ethically build the Metaverse with similar institutions.

Meta’s Privacy Hub

To ease fears around how it handles user’s data, Meta announced on Friday last week it had introduced a Privacy Center to “educate people on their privacy options make it easier to understand how we collect and use information.”

The tech giant wrote people on platforms such as Facebook and its suite of Horizon Metaverse apps could view its Data Policy and control privacy and security settings from a single access point.

Meta rolled out the Privacy Center on its Facebook desktop website, and planned to “roll it out to more people and apps in the coming months,” according to a blog post, adding,

“We’ll continue to update Privacy Center and add more modules and controls to help people understand our approach to privacy across our apps and technologies”

Netizens can access five modules at the Privacy Center, which include security, post sharing, data collection, data use, and advertisements to better manage personal data on the platform, it explained.

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