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Regulating the Metaverse, a Blueprint for the Future

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Abstract

The core Immersive Media (IM) technologies of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have steadily advanced over the last thirty years, enabling high fidelity experiences at consumer prices. Over the same period, networking speeds have increased dramatically, culminating in the deployment of 5G networks. Combined, these advancements greatly increase the prospects for widespread adoption of virtual and augmented worlds. Recently branded "the metaverse" by Meta and other large platforms, major corporations are currently investing billions to deploy immersive worlds that target mainstream activities from socializing and shopping to education and business. With the prospect that corporate-controlled metaverse environments proliferate society over the next decade, it is important to consider the risks to consumers and plan for meaningful regulation. This is especially true in light of the unexpected negative impact that social media platforms have had on society in recent years. The dangers of the metaverse are outlined herein along with proposals for sensible regulation. Keywords: Metaverse, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, Regulation, Virtual Product Placements (VPPs), Virtual People, Virtual Spokespeople

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... For example, the VR metaverse is currently evolving out of the gaming and social media industry, while the AR metaverse is evolving out of the mobile phone industry. In both cases, the shift from flat media to immersive experiences is likely to transform marketing tactics, inspiring a wide range of new advertising methods while introducing many new risks to consumers that should be carefully considered [8][9][10]20]. ...
... For example, a user profiled as a sports fan of a particular age and income level might see someone walking past them down the street (virtual or augmented) wearing a jersey that promotes a high-end sports bar two blocks ahead. Because this is a targeted VPP, other people around them would not see the same content [6,8,10]. ...
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Conference Paper
Over the next five to ten years, the metaverse is likely to transform how consumers interact with digital content, transitioning society from flat media viewed in the third person to immersive experiences engaged in the first person. This will greatly impact the marketing industry, transforming the basic tools, techniques, and tactics from flat artifacts such as images and videos, to immersive and interactive promotional experiences. In the metaverse, marketing campaigns will likely include extensive use of Virtual Product Placements (VPPs) and Virtual Spokespeople (VSPs). Such methods will be highly effective forms of advertising, for they will target users through natural, personal, and immersive means. At the same time, these methods can easily be used and abused in predatory ways. This paper reviews the most likely marketing techniques of the metaverse, outlines the potential risks to consumers, and makes recommendations for policymakers and business leaders that could protect the public.
... I genuinely believe that the metaverse can be a positive technology for humanity. But if we don't protect against the downsides by crafting thoughtful regulation, it could challenge our most sacred personal freedoms including our basic capacity for free will [17][18][19]. ...
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Conference Paper
Over the last thirty years, the immersive technologies of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have steadily advanced, enabling high fidelity experiences at consumer prices. Over the same period, networking speeds have increased dramatically, culminating in the deployment of 5G cellular networks. Combined, these advancements have greatly increased the prospects for widespread adoption of VR and AR worlds. Recently branded “the metaverse” by Facebook (now Meta) and other platform providers, major corporations have begun investing billions of dollars to deploy immersive environments aimed at mainstream activities from socializing and shopping to education and business. With the likelihood rising that metaverse platforms greatly impact society over the next decade, it is prudent to consider the risks and plan for meaningful regulation. This is especially true in light of the negative impacts that social media has had on society in recent years. The dangers of the metaverse are outlined herein along with proposals for regulation.
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Chapter
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One of the new realities of advertising is that personal information can be used to ensure that advertising is only shown and designed for a select group of consumers who stand to gain most from this information. However, to gather the data used for targeting requires some degree of privacy intrusion by advertisers. This sets up a tradeoff between the informativeness of advertising and the degree of privacy intrusion. This paper summarizes recent empirical research that illuminates this tradeoff.
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