Metaverse a double-edged sword, Egypt's FDHRD warns

Hagar El-Shabrawy , Monday 14 Feb 2022

The Metaverse technology could facilitate interaction between people, but it may also be a two-edged sword, warned the Studies and Research Unit at the Egyptian Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD).

Facebook on Thursday announced that it is opening up Horizon World, its virtual reality world of avatars, to anyone 18 and older in the U.S. and Canada.

The FDHRD issued the Features of Human Rights in the Metaverse report on Monday to review the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology.

The Metaverse may help overcome many obstacles facing mankind, create new job opportunities, open new horizons for content-creators and marketing companies, and boost communication between people from different backgrounds, the report stated.

The report reviewed the risks the Metaverse may introduce, such as increasing users’ attachment to virtual reality to the point of addiction. 

The Metaverse may also expose children to sexual exploitation and trafficking. It may lead to increase bullying, discrimination, and racism among different groups, the FDHRD noted.

The report affirmed the importance of promoting human rights as the virtual world develops, citing several international accords that guarantee the protection of human rights.

Due to cultural differences, the new technology may allow "a wide" area of freedom of expression of opinion, in contravention of many values in societies, the report emphasised.

Additionally, the FDHRD warned of racial discrimination that may appear between different groups due to the exposure to bullying, which may increase hate speech between individuals.

The report urged governments to monitor technological developments and study their impacts to mitigate threats to human rights and guarantee the rights of individuals even in the virtual world.

The metaverse technology will be a network of virtual worlds focused on social connection. It was initially announced by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in October to simulate reality. 

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