The World Economic Forum (WEF) is calling for internet and metaverse users to have a unique digital identity, potentially tied to a driver’s license, passport, and even biometric data.
WEF contributor Marcus Bonner, the Chief Technologist for Hewlett Packard, believes users need a singular digital identity to navigate multiple platforms and successfully traverse the metaverse.
The WEF as a messenger
Digital identity is nothing new. Internet users are already familiar with using Facebook or Google credentials to log into other third-party apps. These digital identities are held and owned by their respective companies, not the users themselves.
In WEF the concept has found a highly controversial cheerleader. The WEF is an international organization of 1,000+ international corporations that work together as lobbyists and social engineers. They are perhaps best known for their “great reset” pandemic plan, and a highly unpopular 2016 blog post titled, “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.”
Retinal and fingerprint information
The latest WEF piece suggests that digital identities are one of the many causes added to their list. These identities used on the internet or in the metaverse could also be tied to a person’s real identity in the physical world.
Marcus Bonner says, “like a user’s identity in the physical world, their digital identity will be composed, at least in part, of existing methods of authentication such as a driver’s licence, national insurance or social security number, passport, or retinal and fingerprint information for individuals, while corporations could refer to a company number or operating licence.”
The article does not go as far as to say who would control or regulate these digital identities.
One Twitter user, simply going by the name of Alecs, was concerned that such an identity system could be used to block internet and metaverse access in the future.
“So the @wef is pushing their digital identity agenda, in which they’re effectively banning you from accessing the internet, unless you have a digital ID,” Alecs said.
The notion of an internet of digital identities continues to concern and alarm users. More so when the idea comes from the WEF, whose previous future-gazing imaged a reality in which individuals owned nothing and had absolutely no privacy.
Rent-free dream house
In 2016 the WEF went on to describe the ideal rent-free dream house of the future as follows:
“In our city we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.”
Web3 has a different digital identity
With the nightmare scenario for digital identity already laid bare, there are Web3 firms trying to create their own digital decentralized identities.
Lens Protocol, CyberConnect, Ceramic, and Lit are among the players creating decentralized identities and information streams, marketing them as a way for users to control their data, as opposed to letting centralized players such as Facebook and Google control it.
The history of digital identity can be traced back to the early days of the internet, when users first started to access online services and needed a way to authenticate themselves.
Some of the earliest examples of digital identity systems include password-based authentication systems and simple username and password combinations. As the internet grew and more people started using it, the need for more sophisticated digital identity systems became apparent.
The internet spawned digital identities
This led to the development of things like two-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide a second form of authentication, such as a code sent to their phone. Today, digital identity systems are an essential part of our online lives, and they continue to evolve and become more sophisticated.
“Know thyself” – this quote is attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates and is often used to encourage people to think deeply about their own identities and what makes them who they are.
Just like in the real world, people will have unique identities that they can use to interact with others and access different services. In the metaverse, these digital identities will likely be tied to virtual avatars that represent users in the virtual world.
These avatars will be customizable and will allow users to express themselves and interact with others in a way that is similar to how they do in the real world.
That sort of digital identity may not sound entirely bad, but when a similar concept is also being pushed by organizations such as WEF, do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Meta Reportedly Defeats FTC to Receive Court Approval to Acquire Within
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, has reportedly won court approval for the acquisition of VR fitness app Supernatural’s maker, Within, after the Federal Trade Commission attempted to block the deal.
A US district judge, Edward Davila in San Jose California, “denied the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the proposed transaction” in a sealed decision on Wednesday, reported Bloomberg, citing a source familiar with the ruling.
Meta’s plan was to acquire Within and Supernatural back in October 2021, but it was blocked by the FTC’s complaint file to stop the deal. The FTC’s complaint was justified by saying Meta already owns a “virtual reality empire.”
Following the news, shares of Meta were slightly positive on Wednesday afternoon.
Facebook and The FTC also declined to comment with Bloomberg’s query citing the sealed nature of Davila’s decisions.
Push for Metaverse
The reported victory in this case may boost Mark Zuckerberg’s push towards the Metaverse. Zuckerberg’s Meta Quest 2 is arguably the best VR headset, even after a massive hike in its price last year.
Meta Quest Pro for $1500 and Meta Quest 3 are also in the company’s VR line-up, which has already developed VR spaces for work and play.
The Supernatural, developed by Within, was one of the first subscription-based services on the original Meta Quest.
Supernatural, a fitness app that features video instructors and motion-tracked workout routines, carries similarities to Meta’s successful fitness VR music game Beat Saber. Beat Saber was also acquired by Meta in 2019.
A trial before the FTC’s administrative judge will start on Feb. 13. The FTC will also decide if it will continue with the case. Lina Khan, the chair of the FTC, was appointed by US President Joe Biden to bolster antitrust enforcement as a key principle of his administration’s economic policy. Hence, if this order stands, this loss to Meta will be a significant setback for Khan.
The FTC sued Meta back in July, arguing this acquisition would expand its dominance in the consumer VR market, highlighting its purchase of Beat Saber three years ago. The agency even emphasized that the addition of Within would even eliminate a “beneficial rivalry” between the two companies.
At the time, “the case was) based on ideology and speculation, not evidence, the idea that this acquisition would lead to anticompetitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much entry and growth as online and connected fitness is simply not credible,” said a Meta spokesperson in a statement.
It’s still to be decided whether this will be the end of this story or not, as the FTC has declined to comment.
“Out of respect for the court’s orders, the FTC is not in a position to comment at this time,” FTC director of public affairs Douglas Farrar told The Verge.
Within would be the third start-up acquired by social media giants over the last decade if this case ends here and Meta purchases one more VR start-up. Previously, Meta acquired Oculus in 2014 before purchasing Beat Saber in 2019.
Elon Wants A Twitter For Everything, Pushes The Payments Button
Elon Musk is forging ahead with plans to turn Twitter into a payment platform and compete with Apple Pay and PayPal with the company reported to have started the licensing processes in the US.
Payments could be another way for Twitter to generate revenue, by enabling transactions between users, from which it would then take a small percentage.
However, the process is expected to take long, to get regulatory approvals.
Also read: Hiroshima Adopts Metaverse in Education
The social media platform company is hoping to complete the licensing process in the US within a year. Thereafter, Twitter will likely try getting regulatory approvals needed to expand internationally.
According to the Financial Times report which cites people close to the company’s plans, Musk wants users to be able to purchase stuff on Twitter as well as send money to each other.
The system, according to the report, will be based on fiat, although crypto functionality might be added at a later stage.
Already, Twitter is working on a system that allows users to award creators. These new features will need the company to satisfy regulatory checks, and the Financial Times says its already registered with the US Treasury as a payments processor. Furthermore, the company has also started applying for the necessary regulatory licenses in the US.
Is Elon Musk replicating WeChat?
According to a New York Times report, Musk told Twitter investors that his goal was to see Twitter bring in about $1,3 billion in payment revenues by 2028.
His broader plans are for a more functional app, which would replicate the utility of China’s WeChat, which is used by Chinese for everything from ordering groceries, to buying public transport tickets and bill payments.
The platform has become an important element, that it formed a key part of China’s Covid 19 response. Authorities used the app as means to manage people who tested positive for the pandemic and restrict their movement.
Since he purchased the social media platform for $44 billion, Musk has wanted to bring payments to Twitter, even before he owned the company, returning to the firebrand entrepreneur to payments industry where his story began. Ever since his October acquisition, a flurry of filings points to imminent plans to introduce embedded payments across service.
Payments could be the olive branch
Since his takeover, advertisers have been leaving the platform on concerns over content moderation and related issues.
Ad revenues have been in the range of $5 billion a year, but the platform was widely reported to have lost up to half its advertising commitments by November.
NPR wrote that “Chevrolet, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Ford, Jeep, Kyndryl, Merck & Co. and Novartis AG all issued statements about halting Twitter ads or were reported and confirmed as doing so,” adding their names to a longer list of advertiser defections.
After Musk implemented cost-cutting measures that resulted in a 70% reduction in Twitter staff, the company could be on track to potentially break even this year or close. Hutchinson however says a lot has to go right to get the platform back on track.
“And with advertisers continuing to back away from Twitter spend, it’s not looking good, while subscriptions to Twitter Blue are unlikely to provide much relief, at least at this stage,” said Hutchinson.
“As such, the shift into payments can’t come fast enough, though it’ll still be some time before we see the possibility of in-app payments,” Hutchinson added.
Musk is an early platform payments innovator who formed the online bank X.com in 1999, which, through a sequence of events, became the first version of PayPal in 2001.
Twitter Users Can Appeal Account Suspensions From Feb 1
Microblogging platform Twitter users can appeal their account suspensions starting Feb. 1, using the company’s new reinstatement criteria. The social media giant on Friday said that from February 1 and onwards users will be able to appeal account suspensions and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement, Reuters reported.
However, the accounts will only be suspended for severe or repeat violations of the platform’s policy. The company’s new reinstatement criteria were announced following Elon Musk’s takeover in October.
“As we shared earlier, we have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts. Starting February 1, anyone can appeal an account suspension and be evaluated under our new criteria for reinstatement,” said Twitter.
The platform even said that it would take less severe action than suspending accounts, such as limiting the reach of tweets or asking users to remove tweets that violate policies.
the bird is freed
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
Musk took over Twitter after paying $44 billion in October and tweeted “the bird is freed” immediately.
Since becoming the head of the company, Musk has frequently made controversial statements on social media, particularly targeting individuals with centre-to-left political views, whom he frequently characterizes as possessing a “woke mind virus.”
Not Reinstating All Accounts
The platform has made it clear that accounts involved in illegal activity, harm, violence, or similar will not be reinstated.
“We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated,” said Twitter.
In December 2022, Twitter took down the accounts of several tech journalists who reported on Twitter’s suspension of a handle that shared publicly available data on Elon Musk’s flight movement, according to the Guardian. Twitter later reinstated the accounts.
Twitter stated that there would be warnings before taking severe action to ban such accounts. According to a recent tweet, users who violate policy will be warned to remove their Tweets, and account suspensions will be reserved for serious or ongoing, repeat policy violations.
The conversation began in December last year when the Twitter Safety account tweeted that they had identified several policies “where permanent suspension was a disproportionate action for breaking Twitter rules.”
People Appreciating the Effort
Some users are appreciating Twitter’s efforts to make it a better place for all sides.
“We appreciate the effort and making the place better for all sides,” tweeted, Raiya Safaia.
Starting Feb. 1, Twitter users will be able to appeal account suspensions and be evaluated under the social media platform’s new criteria for reinstatement.
Accounts will only be suspended for severe or ongoing and repeat violations of policies. pic.twitter.com/6a8LiQcAoV
— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) January 29, 2023
“Whoever at twitter looked at my appeal and let me out of twitter jail early last night so I could pay my bills?” another user tweeted.
Over 368 million monthly active users worldwide were part of Twitter’s audience as of December 2022, according to a Statista report.
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