Chapter Twenty Four: Meta - The past of the future of Facebook

We are not surprised that @Facebookapp has changed its name to @Meta and is heading to create Metaverse out of the people of the universe. According to Statista, Facebook has 2.89 billion active users on a monthly basis calculated till the second quarter of 2021.

So the idea that Mark Zuckerberg has is that people are enough consumables to offer themselves to create a parallel (Meta)verse even if that is virtual and not as real as a planet in this given Universe.

Facebook started to connect people; then they started using them and captured maximum information from each of the users. They captured their locations, movements, activities, faces, gestures, behaviour, thinking, ideas, plans, narratives, intentions, imaginations, performances, likes, dislikes, loves, hates, angers, abuses, prides and prejudices, et al.

Soon Facebook realised that they were getting more from people than they ever sought or wanted. They realised that people started living a life inside Facebook. People are writing, posting, watching, recording, chatting, messaging, reacting, replying, storing, calling, hiding, exposing, archiving, wishing, snooping, snoozing, trolling, tracking, stalking, surveilling, watching, lying, anonymising, and so on. 

Facebook’s panopticon model  to monitor all the data that they have been collecting must be giving them goosebumps as to how the users have been openly sharing information without any hesitation. Obviously, people in general must be feeling that Facebook is their home or office or their private corner, yet little do they know that all the backend machines are watching the movements of the people and designing their codes in such a way that they could gather intelligence of how they could further churn  the socio behavioural data into products to feed the consumers back.

Large number of people, precisely close to 3 billion people, are being observed and noted to be living inside Facebook. 

Obviously, Facebook started having ideas: can Artificial Intelligence be greater than human intelligence? Can humans be consumables? Can humans be converted into bots and data? Can they be converted to play like toys and dolls in the hands and instructions of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Data Science (DS), Facial Recognition (FR) and Data Analytics?

Can the real people of the universe have a virtual home inside Facebook? Can humans be a piece of data and be metadata as well as  an entity in the Metaverse? And could the Metaverse be like: as soon as you log in, you walk into your own virtual home, walk into a corner of your drawing room, sit there for a cup of morning coffee, click a button or touch or just utter for your favourite newspaper which will open like a broadsheet, click another button and a bot starts reading the selected headline of the newspaper; you are just listening. Suddenly you hear sound of the  doorbell, you or rather your virtual being (Avatar) walks towards a door, opens the door through gesture of a handheld mouse or a finger touch; the door opens and your another Facebook or Meta friend is standing in front of you; you both share verbal pleasantries and your virtual being i.e. Avatar hug each other; move towards drawing room and sit together to chit chat; this conversation could be between real-you and your friend but on screen your face is very much real but your body being of a bot or an avatar gestures talking to each other.

Consider your walk-through a house or lawn or to a meeting room through your architect’s eye when she is trying to show you your house before building and then you insert yourself into it and in real time play or engage with everything there. Exactly like an experience of virtual reality when you wear special glasses to see the entire film or a video in an experiential manner.

That’s your future logging-in in the aura of your being on Facebook, or on Meta. The Meta will give you a chance of being metamorphosed into whatever you may or may not be able to do in real life; with your friends, relatives, acquaintances, neighbours, etc. It sounds mesmerising, real, exciting, aspired-for and sci-fi becoming real - Matrix in real life.

Have you seen the explanations that Meta website is showing you? See these few screenshots of the same:

Meta clearly claims and promises the use of virtual reality, augmented reality, smart glasses and you can be assured of heavy use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform your gestures, behaviours, patterns, habits, likes and responses into your being and will give you real life experience.

But what Meta is not saying is the following, if we can bring your attention to the definitions that we searched through the internet when we were looking deeper about Meta.

Actually Meta is almost meaningless without any prefix or suffix. Meta means beyond or after - that signifies change or alteration. For example, metamorphic or metabolic or metamorphosis. Other meaningful words could be metatags and metadata. The dictionary meaning of Meta is, “referring to itself or to the conventions of its genre; self-referential”.

The enterprise is inherently ‘meta’, since it doesn't review movies, for example, it reviews the reviewers who review movies. Meta clearly means that going deeper into the self at several layered levels. If we relate meta to an individual human, it can be implied to go deeper into one’s entire being, personality, character, behaviour, habits and so on. If we convert one’s online presence and deep dive into that person, it means retrieving all the data; data about data; data about all actions, activities and movements of the individual. This would lead to an analysis of one’s profile based on the layers of the data ultimately leading to metadata.

Facebook has been mining you and everyone who is on any of the Meta company’s platforms or subsidiaries like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. 

Let's have a look at what Facebook already had about you through these revelations that have come through the investigations by Wall Street Journal and other media houses as well as by the whistleblowers, Frances Haugen and Sophie Zhang.

Clearly if all the above revelations are true and if Facebook has been collecting metadata then obviously the Metaverse, that is going to be offered to the global consumers, would try its best to make addicted to their platforms. You take a call whether you would like to belong to any platform which controls your life, make you addicted, make you behave the way they want, make you utter and opine the way they want and keep you engaged no better than a bot.

As far as we are concerned, we are sure that it is time we all plan our exits from social media.

Meanwhile at DEF…

Digital Empowerment Foundation along with Jadeite Solutions organised their third webinar to highlight the importance of Community Radios in Southern India as well as sustaining the CR in the times of COVID-19.

Catch the glimpse of the webinar through the Tweets at DEF's Twitter handle.

Moving on, 

Learn about Sushma Kumari’s story who is a young entrepreneur and how due to her disability she struggled to find livelihood opportunities. DEF trained her with digital tools and today instead of being a job seeker, she has become a digital entrepreneur who is utilising her skills to serve people in need.

Similarly, read about Rohini Devi from Amra village, Barabanki’s Uttar Pradesh who has been trained with digital tools through the Digital Sarthak training and how through social media she has been expanding her dairy business. 


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TypeRight - The Digital Nukkad

TypeRight - The Digital Nukkad, is a weekly conversational bulletin curated through the news and discussions on social media as well as what's happening on the ground. Through the eyes and ears of Digital Empowerment Foundation across rural India and global south, TypeRight aspires to focus on bringing the contextual relevance of digital technologies and developments on the society - both connected and unconnected.