Facebook’s plan to build a metaverse has been called “dystopian” by one of the company’s earliest investors.
Businessman Roger McNamee told a conference that the company had done “incalculable” harm and should be reined in.
“Facebook should not be allowed to create a dystopian metaverse,” he reportedly said.
“There’s no way that a regulator or policymaker should be allowing Facebook to operate there [in the metaverse] or get into cryptocurrencies,” McNamee added.
“Facebook should have lost the right to make its own choices. A regulator should be there giving pre-approval for everything they do. The amount of harm they’ve done is incalculable.”
McNamee was an early Facebook investor, but became increasingly critical of the company as misinformation proliferated on the platform.
He has published a book about the Facebook “catastrophe” and is one of the 25 members of Facebook’s self-appointed oversight board.
His comments echoed remarks from social media, where Facebook’s plans were compared to the dystopian world of the television programme Black Mirror.
McNamee spoke at the Web Summit in Lisbon late last week, where Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen also addressed attendees and called for Mark Zuckerberg to step down as chief executive of the company, which recently renamed itself Meta.
“I think it is unlikely the company will change if he remains CEO,” Haugen said during an on-stage interview at the event.
“I think Facebook would be stronger with someone who was willing to focus on safety.”
Facebook has said the reports based on tens of thousands of documents leaked by Haugen paint a “false” picture of the company.
The company also challenged McNamee’s view of its metaverse plans, saying metaverse-style technology could be “incredibly fun”.
Chris Cox, chief product officer for Facebook/Meta, said the metaverse concept would make “the internet less flat” and that it would be an improvement over video conferencing.
Asked about the safety issues that have plagued Facebook for years, Cox acknowledged that the technology should be accompanied by “a set of standards and a set of protocols” and “public discourse” on such matters.
Following a virtual event last year, the Web Summit was hosted in person this year and reportedly filled arenas with crowds from across Europe and the Americas.