Mark Zuckerberg announced ambitious plans to build the ‘metaverse’ The virtual reality construct is intended to merge virtual life with real life and create endless new playgrounds. Zuckerberg, CEO of the company formerly known as Facebook, even renamed it Meta to underscore the significance of the effort.

Holograms could be used in mixed-reality business meetings. But it’s just as easy to imagine dystopian downsides. Suppose the metaverse also enables a vastly larger, yet more personal version of the harassment and hate that Facebook has been slow to deal with.

Picture an online troll campaign — but one in which the barrage of nasty words you might see on social media is instead a group of angry avatars yelling at you. “We approach that differently — having somebody scream at us than having somebody type at us,” said Amie Stepanovich, executive director of Silicon Flatirons.

The danger is creating online public spaces that appeal only to a “polarized, homogenous group of people,” says Philip Rosedale, founder of Second Life. “There is a potential for that harm to be really ramped up.”
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