Meta Monopolising Metaverse? Mark Zuckerberg’s Acquisition Strategy May Be Illegal

EM360 TECH

Published on
02/08/2022 10:35 AM

Is Meta monopolising the Metaverse? Mark Zuckerberg is being criticised by industry experts for potentially trying to take over the whole virtual reality industry. 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently filed a complaint against the tech giant for acquiring Within, the company that produced the VR game Supernatural. The reason behind the case was that Meta already owned the ever-so-popular VR game Beat Saber, which very well could have been a direct competition to Supernatural.

Gameplay: Supernatural

This move has led the FTC to suspect that Mark Zuckerberg’s company may be making advances toward having monopolistic control over the futuristic Metaverse by “buying-acquiring-killing” the competition in the space.

Gameplay: Beat Saber

While a Meta sportsperson has dismissed the idea of eliminating competition, several industry leaders and regulators feel that Zuckerberg’s strategies are not only harmful to the competitive nature of the market but quite possibly illegal too.

Kavya Pearlman, an EM360 Tech advisory board member and ‘Cyber Guardian’ who is actively working towards protecting the Metaverse has expressed her concerns with the way Meta acquiring Within maybe a lot more than just another “merger and acquisition”.

“Looking at this case in isolation and the surface level may lead to the conclusion that it is just a normal case of Merger & Acquisition (M&A). But to understand why this type of acquisition is detrimental to building healthy competition, we have to dig deeper into Meta's acquisition and other anti-competitive practices,” Kavya told us.

According to Kavya, who is also the Founder and CEO of XR Safety Initiative, each of the acquisitions by Meta is disturbing and potentially illegal for two reasons: 

Massive Data Collection 

The acquisition of Beat Saber triggered Meta to update its privacy policy immediately so they could use all the data they gathered from the game studio and avoid any legal implications. 

Anti-Trust Practices Against Emerging And Leading Apps And Developers 

Guy Godin's story with the Virtual Desktop app and Cix Liv's story with the YUR app where Meta is accused of their well-known tactic "Copy, Acquire, " to ensure their monopoly in the space.

“This is particularly bad for the next iteration of the internet, the Metaverse, as it goes against the very assertion Meta continues to make that they don't want to own it. If they own all the major apps and don't allow indie developers to flourish, it will lead to Meta inevitably owning a large part of the Metaverse, becoming the most powerful organization for the next evolution of the internet.”

“From XRSI's perspective, it is encouraging to see that FTC is paying attention to these aspects and looking to hold Meta accountable for the anti-trust activities.”

Kristina Podnar, the chairperson of the Metaverse Reality Check, also welcomed FTC’s efforts to keep the Metaverse a fair playing field where all the companies, big or small, have an equal opportunity to progress.

“I welcome FTC’s action as I see it as coming at a critical time with regards to frontier technologies,” says Kristina. “Most governments are challenged to define and sustain a sound regulatory framework that balances business creativity and innovation with citizen privacy and safety.”

Also Read: Meta’s Internal Memo Leaked: Employees Asked To Brace For ‘Serious Times’ Ahead

“The FTC complaint against Meta reflects the U.S. Government’s attempt to reengage with big tech and have a conversation about the central roles they play in modern society technologies such as VR, discourse, and broader governance.”

“There is little doubt that Meta will continue to mediate, coordinate, and influence the thoughts and behaviours of billions of people. The FTC rightfully wants to see healthy competition as the company continues to pursue greater engagement and control.”

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