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In the Name of God بسم الله

The Metaverse - My take

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Bismillah ta A'la

Salam Alekum, brothers and sisters, 

Lately, there has been much talk on this thing called the metaverse. While the Metaverse might be new, in a way, in another way it isn't new at all. The new part about it is that this collection of technologies we call 'metaverse' are being used currently by a company 'aka Facebook' and an individual  aka Mark Zuckerberg, to distract people from the information that has recently leaked out regarding the callous and criminal activities of this individual and this company. This is the hype. Let me go into a little more detail so that you can understand they hype

There is a phrase very often used in corporations, like Facebook, called 'fiduciary responsibility'. Many of you, even those whose first language is English, may not have heard this phrase before, but it is very important to understand this phrase in order to understand much of what goes on in the world today. A 'fiduciary' is someone or some group who is acting, in good faith, for another group. They are tasked with looking after the interests of the group that they are the fiduciary for. So 'fiduciary responsibility' means that they have an obligation to carry out an action or certain actions on behalf of someone else, or another group of people in order to fulfill their duties as the fiduciary for this group or individual. They are bound by this 'fiduciary responsibility' to act only in the way that this group wants them to act and to avoid all actions that this group does not want them to do. 

In the case of Facebook, and other publicly owned corporation, i.e. corporations that are owned by the shareholders, the fiduciaries are the CEO (Mark Zuckerberg in the case of Facebook) and the senior management of Facebook. The group that they are serving are the shareholders, who are the owners of Facebook, in a legal sense. The shareholders, who are the owners, invest in Facebook for one reason and one reason only, to make money. They buy the shares at a price, with the expectation that someday they can sell them at a higher price, and thus increase their wealth. This is the premise that lies at the heart of all corporate behavior, whether this behavior helps society or harms society. When Mark Zuckerberg and others use this phrase 'fiduciary responsibility' what they are saying is that my job is not to help society or harm society, help anyone or harm anyone, my only duty is to make money for the owners of the company, and this is my only responsibility. Legally, what he is saying is correct. At the same time, we are all seeing the negative effects on society of this type of thinking. 

So the metaverse is merely a collection of technologies that have existed for a while now (the Internet, Virtual reality headsets, fast connections, 3d graphics, etc). What Facebook is saying is that they want to package these technologies up in a way so that they can make money off of them. That shouldn't surprise anyone. These technologies are not inherently good or evil in themselves. They become good or evil depending on how they are used. If they are packaged and controlled by large corporations, like Facebook, who justify anything under the title 'fiduciary responsibility', then we can expect more of the same detrimental effects on society from the Metaverse as we are seeing from social media. They will not be a net positive for us, but a net negative. Society will not become better but worse. 

If you remember back when social media first started, back in the early 2000s, everyone was saying that now that we have the ability to connect to anyone, anywhere in the world, easily and cheaply, that this will bring about a new era of understanding, cooperation, and prosperity for all thru the facilitation of these easy and cheap connections between people. Is that what happened ? No. Social Media was taken over by one giant corporation, i.e. Facebook, (Facebook is Instagram, WhatsApp, etc, for those who don't know this) with the goal of making money only, and we have what we have now with social media. Most people will tell you that they have no choice but to be on social media, for work, school, business, etc, but that they don't enjoy it and it doesn't make their life any better and in many cases makes it worse. 

That is because the corporation that controls social media are not there to make people's lives easier, to make society prosperous, to increase understanding or cooperation. They're goal is to get 'eyeballs on screens' for as long as possible so that they can see and click on ads and interact with content that is put there by people who are paying them. The 'Metaverse' will be no different. Don't rush to get there, it's not worth it. 

Edited by Abu Hadi
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Is shiachat our only "social media" or do others that are not corporate affiliated exist? 

How much national or international control is exerted over privately owned media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, and how does that compare to controls over smaller sites? 

 

Does a safe place to publicly express opinions and discuss exist?

Edited by notme
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I wonder how they would entice us into using Metaverse? We've had the technology for about a decade and people didn't care that much. The incentive to be on our phones is social media and youtube, I can't see why people would toss their ultra-convenient phones for headgear. They'd have to bring something to the table that makes even us tempted to use it. Maybe financial incentive, maybe being able to experience physical sensations, maybe it'll be a requirement, or a great convenience. It's also possible that this won't be the big thing, but in time it will be developed to the point where it is. Like cell phones and the internet which have evolved so much.

It's an exciting thing to talk about because who knows how the future will turn out.

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On 1/15/2022 at 5:18 AM, Abu Hadi said:

That is because the corporation that controls social media are not there to make people's lives easier, to make society prosperous, to increase understanding or cooperation. They're goal is to get 'eyeballs on screens' for as long as possible so that they can see and click on ads and interact with content that is put there by people who are paying them.

For clarity I think it should be explained that social media has certain characteristics that no one can do anything about (I think).

The concept here is referred to as a 'positive network externality', in sum, with social media the benefits you get from it depend on who else is on it. If no one you know uses Facebook, then it's useless for you. If everyone uses it, then it's great. This makes such businesses natural monopolies, you are very likely to get a tiny number of dominant players.

This has implications for Mark Zuckerberg:

  1. He can't charge people for using Facebook, if he did it would put them off.
  2. He has to try and make sure that people use it as much as possible, because if they drift off, then he'll lose them.
  3. And if he can do the above he can make money from the data he collects and advertising he can offer.

The above threats are very real. There used to be a dominant social media website called Myspace and everyone has seen that just because you dominate short-term gives you no God given right to continue doing so. Myspace is effectively dead.

Right now there is a similar battle being played out in the travel industry, booking.com has been a threat to many different players, but Google's travel offerings are getting better by the month. Soon the company all others used to be terrified of, might see Google eat its lunch (in my opinion).

Facebook sees competition from a host of alternatives - anything really that attracts eyeballs - including computer games (their annual accounts are clear about this).

Meta therefore is Facebook's attempt at staying relevant. They are terrified of the next big thing and would rather introduce it than be eaten by it.

I don't use Facebook, instagram for a very specific purpose but I do use WhatsApp.

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18 hours ago, notme said:

Is shiachat our only "social media" or do others that are not corporate affiliated exist? 

How much national or international control is exerted over privately owned media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook, and how does that compare to controls over smaller sites? 

 

Does a safe place to publicly express opinions and discuss exist?

There are tons of sites like, shiaChat. When I say 'social media', I am not really talking about sites like this. Yes, it has some features of a social media site, but if you ask the avearge person on the street, or even the average Muslim on the street, they will have never heard of ShiaChat. We are not known by the public, in general. So we are not considered 'social media' as per the definition above, since most of 'society' does not know we exist. Just to clarify, sorry for the confusion

Non Corporate sites, like this one, represent a very tiny fraction of the 'social media' traffic. Roughly 99.9% of social media traffic (posts, likes, media content, etc) goes thru Facebook. By Facebook, I mean Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp (all owned and controlled by the Corporation now known as 'Meta')

I would say the only non Facebook site which does receive significant traffic is reddit. At the same time, I would not recommend that any Muslim go on there, as it is a 'garbage dump' for lots of haram content, wild conspiracy theories, stuff like incel nonsense, and other things which probably would get taken off Facebook. 

Edited by Abu Hadi
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21 hours ago, notme said:

Can we make our own? Maybe even make our own internet entirely? 

There actually were things like this that have happened. I remember some brothers in Iraq made a virtual reality project about the events of Karbala. 

https://www.vr-karbala.com/

The problem is that these kinds of projects are usually 'one offs' or sponsored by small groups with very small budgets ( or no budget). They are small indie projects which might benefit some, but will never reach the masses. In order to reach the masses, you need an ongoing source of capital and funding on a large scale. 

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On 1/16/2022 at 1:42 PM, Abu Hadi said:

At the same time, I would not recommend that any Muslim go on there, as it is a 'garbage dump' for lots of haram content, wild conspiracy theories, stuff like incel nonsense, and other things which probably would get taken off Facebook. 

It really depends on which subreddits you visit. There are good islamic subreddits on there plus subreddits like food,animals and technology also exists. But i do agree that reddit as a whole seem to be anti religion (christian and muslim alike)

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On 1/15/2022 at 8:19 PM, Haji 2003 said:

Facebook sees competition from a host of alternatives - anything really that attracts eyeballs - including computer games (their annual accounts are clear about this).

 

Following last night's announcement from Meta/Facebook:

Quote

Investors wiped almost $200bn from the market valuation of Facebook owner Meta as it warned that its users were spending more time on newer rivals such as ByteDance’s TikTok.

https://www.ft.com/content/51ea47e1-50c1-4b72-94d6-884017a1af4a

 

This discussion brings back to mind the following:

image.png

 

which is the underlying business model of social network sites and the implications of consuming something that is free at the point of delivery. In a consumerist society we are conditioned to look for bargains and there is no bargain better than free.

But looked at another way, it is a means of effectively 'selling yourself', but something that many people do not realise.

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8 hours ago, Haji 2003 said:

 

Following last night's announcement from Meta/Facebook:

https://www.ft.com/content/51ea47e1-50c1-4b72-94d6-884017a1af4a

 

This discussion brings back to mind the following:

image.png

 

which is the underlying business model of social network sites and the implications of consuming something that is free at the point of delivery. In a consumerist society we are conditioned to look for bargains and there is no bargain better than free.

But looked at another way, it is a means of effectively 'selling yourself', but something that many people do not realise.

As the saying goes, 'If it's free, you're the product'. 

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