In October 2021, Mark Zuckerberg introduced the metaverse and even produced a video explaining what it will look like. He called the Facebook metaverse “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.” Imagine you could meet your friends from all over the world in a virtual reality, discuss business with partners without leaving your office, or access fantasy worlds you’ve always dreamed about.
The metaverse is still a concept, so it’s no wonder that 55% of Americans do not know what it is. Only 14% of respondents were able to explain the metaverse in detail and understand how it works.
Zuckerberg called the metaverse the successor of the mobile internet, indicating that it will dramatically change the way we work and communicate. Once introduced to the metaverse concept, 24% of Americans said that it can totally or partially (42%) change social media.
Would people trust the metaverse with their private information?
While the metaverse concept might sound exciting for hardcore tech fans, we also have to take into account Facebook privacy issues. The social media giant is known for occasional data breaches, which suggests it must rethink its cybersecurity strategy before launching another product.
Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed are concerned about how the metaverse could affect their privacy. They think it might be easy for hackers to impersonate others (50%), users’ identities won’t be legally protected (47%), and they will be forced to share even more of their private data, which can be later abused (45%).
Facebook always makes it onto the annual list of biggest data breaches and 2021 is no exception, and throughout the years it has become obvious that our private data is not in good hands. While the company rebranded itself to Meta, experts say it’s still early to determine whether it’s something more than a marketing move.
Stepping into the futuristic world
As much as internet users are concerned about their online privacy, 74% would join or at least consider joining the metaverse. This explains why, despite all the data breaches and scandals it has been involved in, Facebook still has a stable user base. While most people acknowledge privacy issues as being a concern, the desire for a new service is just too great.
People are interested in joining the metaverse for various reasons, such as experiencing things they can’t in physical reality (41%), communicating with others (40%), escaping their surroundings (28%), or even wanting to become a different person (23%).
While a quarter of surveyed Americans have no interest in joining the metaverse, their opinion may change after the service is available for everyone. As with any other social media platform, the metaverse may be used for good or bad purposes. Hopefully this time, privacy risks will be addressed in a more efficient way than we’ve seen in the last decade.
Methodology: A national online survey of 1,002 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over, was conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of NordVPN in December of 2021.
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