Lawmakers revolve around the metaverse

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When Mark Zuckerberg built his $450 billion social media empire, he had to do it his way. The metaverse will be different.

Two US senators sent a letter to Meta on Thursday asking the tech giant to drop plans to open its Horizon Worlds metaverse app to children 13 and older. Simultaneously, EU Big Tech antitrust hawk Margrethe Vestager announced that she was keeping her Danish eye on the metaverse from the start.

Zuckerberg’s Cinematic Metaverse

In other words, Meta will not build the metaverse away from prying eyes, as has been the case with Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. And lawmakers won’t take long to pounce. Don’t be surprised if Zuck ends up only sending his avatar the next time Congress calls him.

Meta actually won its first fight with antitrust regulators, fending off a 2020 lawsuit from FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan to block its acquisition of VR exercise startup Within. But today, hating Meta is one of the few things politicians on both sides of the aisle can agree on:

  • In their letter to Senators Meta, Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal said Meta holds a “record of failure in protecting children and adolescents.”
  • This casts a dark cloud over a major growth strategy for Meta: The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the company was turn to teenagers in an effort to increase Horizon Worlds lackluster user count.

Meta also can’t afford to ignore antitrust regulators just because it won a battle. Vestager told a conference Thursday that regulators need to move quickly so new technologies don’t outpace enforcement. “Sometimes we should allow ourselves to be bold, to make sure we are up to the challenge,” she said.

Clouds over Africa: Meta’s antitrust issues aren’t limited to the US and Europe, either. An international coalition of competition regulators from more than 21 African countries met on Thursday to announce that they will collaborate in investigating a wide range of business practices by Big Tech companies on the continent. For Meta, who recently tried in vain to extricate himself from a lawsuit in Nairobi brought by a former animator on working conditions, the blows are linked.

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