Data protection, Facebook's main challenge as it evolves to Meta

Zuckerberg's Meta network could make the decision not to make a monopolistic product. Data protection, Facebook's main challenge as it evolves to Meta. This is what it means.

Data protection, Facebook's main challenge as it evolves to Meta
Facebook's main challenge is data protection as it evolves into Meta. Photo by Dima Solomin / Unsplash

The change in Facebook's strategy that began with the change of name to Meta was an obligatory step that, if it had not been taken, the platform was destined to fail due to the decrease in users in recent years, and ran the risk of ending up in oblivion like MySpace and Hi5, assured the director of UNAM Mobile, Alejandro García Romero.

According to statistics from We Are Social and Hootsuite, in January 2017 Facebook had 2.167 billion monthly active users worldwide. By January 2020, the figure rose to 2.44 billion. However, according to market studies and media research in the world conducted by Edison Research, in 2020 it reported a loss of 15 million active users per month in the U.S. market alone, and a third of its audience was using the platform less and less.

Apart from the name change, the head of the social network would have to decentralize its platforms and work with open-source; that is, make it available globally for free, in addition to granting its licenses for easy reuse or adaptation to different contexts. The information superhighway giant has dominated social communication in the last decade, therefore one must understand its evolution and the implications of the company's vision.

"It seems to me that Zuckerberg's network has a historic appointment. By continuing to be the number one social network, along with its subsidiary apps, it could make the decision not to make a monopolistic product, because it is clear that this is the way: cryptocurrencies and blockchain are decentralized; this is how the internet should be, Facebook has to make the decision and hopefully it has not made the wrong one," he referred.

The platform faces several challenges such as the issue of privacy, its "Achilles heel"; users' trust has been lost regarding the care of their data. "It has been criticized a lot because it seems that it has not done enough to be a secure social network, which does not put at risk, not only the interests of individuals and the communities they create but also those of governments and countries."

Although the strategy of creating a meta-universe involves hardware, software, virtual reality content, and augmented reality where users can have an immersive experience, other companies have followed this strategy, such as Microsoft. For Alejandro García, what is serious is that Facebook is the company that should be in charge of this approach to develop a virtual universe. According to the academic, there are no conditions to trust the Meta network as a safe environment in terms of privacy.

Everyone has to protect their information because the platform was not created for that purpose, "it was born to make money through advertising, data, that is in its DNA, therefore, I do not see how this is going to change," he said. In that sense, the most viable thing would be for Zuckerberg to propose a new, decentralized one, not a monopoly; otherwise, he would accumulate power.

"It has been seen on countless occasions that Facebook is not reliable or to safeguard data, but to compromise it. Today the network is an environment that generates addiction, frustration, anxiety, and serious situations in people, and this will continue to be repeated in the next products of the social network."

The academic regretted that this futuristic vision leads to the population being destined to spend more and more time connected; although it has proven to be a good option for connection and information sharing, it remains more hours remotely than with real people. "We already have a certain addiction with phones and it can be controlled, but the new generations are going to be born with devices where practically their life is going to be there, I doubt that this should be the future," he said.

For the moment users will not notice anything strange in the platform, they will only find the new name somewhere when they open the app, it will be until after the first semester of 2022 when the drastic changes will arrive. The first will be to create an avatar: "their vision is that in five years their world will be virtualized".

He reiterated the need to read the terms and conditions for use of any platform since to generate the digital profile (avatar), the social network will request access to personal data, images. "What is going to happen is that people are not going to read them and probably give you permission to make commercial use of your face and image without knowing it."