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Global Challenges to Digital Media Policy and Regulation, Vol. 30 - 2023, No. 2

Guest Edited by Hannu Nieminen, Helena Sousa, and Claudia Padovani

Into the Metaverse: Technical Challenges Social Problems Utopian Visions and Policy Principles

, pages: 161-173

The metaverse holds a prominent place in debates over the future direction of digital networks. Proponents claim that advances in virtual and augmented reality will shape every facet of social life. This article defines the metaverse, explores the state of the technology, and addresses its public policy significance. It makes use of a political economic perspective focusing on the concepts of commodification and spatialisation. Specifically, it considers how major platform and gaming companies plan to use the metaverse to expand market share. The article also addresses the cultural dimensions of the metaverse as the latest in a series of utopian visions of a digital sublime. It proceeds to take up the social problems associated with the metaverse and concludes by describing the essential policy principles that should guide public authorities in the regulating the metaverse. These principles include acknowledging that current concerns over implementation do not limit future deployment. Moreover, public policy should start by recognising that the metaverse is a public space and not the private property of the major platforms. Finally, policy must address specific social problems deepened by the arrival of the metaverse including crime, privacy, the impact on climate, and data ownership.

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