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Metaverse and The Future of Social Media

Love it or loathe it, social media is now firmly entrenched in our lives, and if the Metaverse has anything to do with it, it will become increasingly so. The use of various social media networks is currently experiencing significant growth. More than 80% of the 4.66 billion people on the planet who have access to the internet are users of social networking sites, and it is anticipated that this percentage will continue to rise. People who used social media a few years ago were happy just to receive likes from their friends and relatives; today, we share advice and skills, promote services, buy goods, and do much more than that. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms are already being used by a large number of well-known businesses to engage in two-way communication with their customers. These businesses range from food manufacturers to large automotive companies. Some companies have even abandoned their websites in favour of focusing entirely on their presence on social networking sites. However, if we have learnt anything from the Internet, it is that this is a highly fluid and flexible entity, and the advent of the Metaverse has proven that, just when we think we have a handle on it, it goes and changes into something different.

The sheer interactiveness of the Metaverse opens up all manner of opportunities from virtual working to in-depth research, and truly interactive shopping experiences to a whole new form of social collaboration. You can do all of these things now from the comfort of your own headset, but this is just the tip of the iceberg; things are going to get weird.

Wearable technology is anticipated to bring about a significant sea change in the social media landscape in the not-too-distant future. At the moment, a significant number of individuals have at least one wearable device in their possession, such as a Fit-Bit or other smart watch, or smart headphones. It is anticipated that by the year 2025, the typical consumer will own as many as eight pieces of connected technology, which will record virtually all of their activities. This wearable technology will monitor and record everything from their commute to work to their constant heart rate. Additionally, it will provide an ever-deeper bond between people and social media, which will increase engagement and connectivity. It will create a comprehensive portrait of the user’s life and give them the ability to share this data on various social media platforms.

This, however, flies in the face of the growing backlash against the collection of data; public conversations around the more negative aspects of social media platforms, such as data collection and privacy concerns, as well as fake news and propaganda, have led to more thinking about how we should use them and whether or not we should even use them at all. It is likely that many people will re-evaluate their relationship with social media over the next decade, and by extension, the Big Tech companies that run them. This will likely result in a couple of potential outcomes, the first of which is that more people will leave public platforms entirely, opting instead to stick to small communities and friendship groups on more private platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal. The second potential outcome is that Big Tech companies will become more regulated and forced to comply with legislation. The alternative is for social media platforms to reduce the scope of their data collection and targeting operations in an effort to preserve their respective businesses.

However, much of this will already be evident to companies like Meta who have thrived on the data that they have collected. They certainly won’t want to relinquish their hold on social media but they will realise that the current level of control is unlikely to be allowed to continue. This is where the Metaverse will become their strength. By becoming the major force behind the Metaverse, companies like Meta can gain an early advantage by driving an important part of the social media sector as it matures. Data will still exist, but what it is and how it is collected may well metamorphose into a new, subtle, form.

The Metaverse is a wondrous virtual world that reaches far beyond what we could have imagined even a few years ago. We have the ability to buy and sell virtual land, create whole new personas and engage with others in ways that we could only previously imagine, and social media is going to be one of the most important drivers. 

George Orwell wrote in the book 1984 “who controls the past controls the future” but we would argue that as technology advances, the truth is actually that who controls social media, will control the Metaverse.