Meta’s VP of product policy and strategy met with South Korea’s official media regulator to work on safety and privacy regulations for the metaverse space, fueled by users’ concerns.

What happened?

  • Andy O’Connell, Meta’s Vice President of Product Policy and Strategy teamed up with South Korea’s official media regulation agency to discuss and work out user protection measures in the metaverse during the meeting.
  • Ahn Hyoung-hwan, the Vice Chairman of KCC (Korea Communications Commission) reached out to Meta to unite efforts to create a safe environment for the users and companies. The meeting was arranged in response to several reports of personal assaults, all taking place on metaverse platforms.
  • South Korea’s Ministry of Science is currently developing rules and regulations that will stimulate the spread of the metaverse and, along with the country’s media regulators, elaborate on metaverse-based video game laws.

What were the grounds?

  • Since its introduction in December 2021, Meta’s platform Horizon Worlds became the spot for several much-publicized virtual harassment and assault cases in 2022.
  • One of the most media-covered episodes happened on the Horizon Worlds platform in May 2022 when a female avatar was sexually assaulted by two male avatars in the virtual room. That sparked a series of safety procedures and investigations from the side of Meta.

What were the meeting’s highlights?

During the meeting on September 19, Ahn Hyoung-hwan and Andy O’Connell considered measures for enhanced user protection and sensible data policy within the Metaverse. The key takeaways of the talk, according to a Korean media outlet, were:

  • Ways of tackling user safety issues and preventing illegal information distribution;
  • Promoting transparent algorithms and policies between Meta and its users;
  • Advancing further user protection policies regarding safety and confidentiality.

The meeting was only a starting point yet carried an important objective: to path the way towards an extensive regulatory environment fostering the adoption of new technologies for businesses and industries and discuss new business models conscious of user safety issues, with a special concern for Meta’s platforms.

How Meta(verse) started

  • Facebook’s much-discussed rebranding to Meta which happened in late October 2021 was explained by the need for a clear connection between the new brand name and the big long-standing project of the metaverse, according to its founder Mark Zuckerberg.
  • To make the metaverse a constantly evolving AI and VR technology-based virtual world nudging users to devote increasing amounts of their time day by day, Zuckerberg reportedly invested over $10 billion in its development in 2021.
  • To date, Meta offers the VR-powered Horizon Worlds platform meant for creating unique content and the Presence Platform for building and developing naturalized immersive experiences. The company is currently preparing a browser version of the Horizon Worlds platform that would be accessible to anyone owning a VR headset.
  • The paramount characteristic of the metaverse, as seen by its founder, is immersive user experience in navigating the embodied Internet: “The defining quality of the metaverse is presence, which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place”, Zuckerberg highlighted. Yet this particular quality of close presence turned out to be the litigious spot from where the harassment cases sprouted.

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