Facebook has been under fire recently for it’s negligence in controlling the content that is on its platforms and for hiding research that indicates that some types of content that are frequent on the sites have demonstrated to be harmful to populations that use them, specifically youth. This information was brought forward by a whistleblower who was tired of seeing the deception and hoped to spark positive change and a trend of transparency in Facebook. Amidst hearings in which it became evident that neither social media giants nor members of congress know how the average person under the age of 30 functions, Facebook released an announcement about the rebranding of the Facebook brand, now to be called Metaverse. The platforms of Instagram and Facebook will remain unchanged, but they will become part of a new network of technological innovation that is geared towards a futuristic and savvy image. However, this rebranding has come with advertising that has raised yet even more concerns and conversation. These ads revel in the idea of a world where we no longer need to connect or interact in person, but instead communicate and bond purley through a virtual reality. It has been described as out-of-touch and as feeding into the problems that new technology has created, rather than attempting to mitigate them. Others say that it’s the natural progression of things, and that this new future is worthwhile and inevitable.
There are several ethical debates to be had here. For one, are Facebook’s actions of creating the Metaverse going to benefit society or just draw it farther apart? If their actions have harmful results, were their intentions largely positive? Does it even matter? Utilitarians would think not. Furthermore, the timing of the branding was convenient, a clear public relations solution to alleviate some of the criticism that Facebook was receiving due to the whistleblower. Is this type of diversion, one that has been used by various companies before, a fair strategic strategy? Or is manipulating the minds of the public to ignore issues that could be affecting them harmful to society and deceptive? This act of diversion could easily be seen as dishonesty, but whether lying is inherently wrong or if it’s acceptable in the circumstance of saving one’s own reputation is up for discussion between teleological and deontological theorists.
As of now, we’ll have to wait and see how this new chapter in technology adaptation evolves, and determine for ourselves whether we want to see the world with or without an Oculus headset.