The metaverse is a new and revolutionary way to interact with people, often strangers, in semi-anonymous ways, by talking, playing games, and perhaps buying/selling virtual or physical items. This brings many questions concerning not only safety in the metaverse, but also how those interactions could bring in safety concerns in real life, outside of the metaverse. Let’s take a dive into the safety of metaverse communities and individuals.
Crimes in the Metaverse
It’s likely we will soon see some of the first prosecutable crimes in the metaverse. This may include theft, fraud, harassment or stalking, or a number of other misdemeanors and felonies. Like any place where people congregate in mass, whether it be the real world or on facebook, bad actors are going to take advantage of people and do bad things. It’s up to the community to report and track these people and local/federal law enforcement to do their job and investigate any claims of a crime in the metaverse.
Staying Safe in the Metaverse
So what can you do to help stop crimes in the metaverse? Well you can follow these rules, some may be common sense in your eyes, but worth repeating for new users to blockchain technology and online communities.
- Don’t give out personal information, including social security number, physical address, birthdate, phone number, credit card number, or anything you wouldn’t be comfortable giving to a stranger on the street in real life.
- If playing on a cryptocurrency and blockchain related metaverse platform, do not ever give out your cryptocurrency wallet password or secret private key passphrase words. These can be used to gain access to your wallet and possibly steal funds.
- Don’t ever click on a link that you aren’t 100% certain is safe, and always ask on official support channels like the companies discord or twitter if you’re not sure. Be cautious of fake support accounts in the metaverse or on social media channels. If you’ve used twitter and ever mentioned metamask or phantom wallets, i’m sure you’ve seen some fake support accounts pop up and try to convince people to contact them for help. They are fake and surely a scam.
- While NFTs are fairly safe, scammers will sometimes drop fake NFTs in your wallet, while not necessarily malicious, the link in the NFTs description area or metadata can be dangerous, so use caution with unknown NFTs. Scammers may also attempt to lure you to a “free mint” which may seem legitimate, and they do exist, but often it’s simply a way for them to drain your wallet of NFTs and cryptocurrency upon connection to the website. Always ask official twitters and reputable 3rd parties or official support channels of the metaverse project or related to ensure it’s safe, but even they can be wrong at times. One way to avoid these free or low cost mints from draining your funds is to use a “burner wallet” This basically refers to a wallet that only contains the funds needed to process the mint and transaction, and none of the majority of your cryptocurrency or NFTs. Get used to using a burner wallet for every mint if possible, it’s the safest way to mint NFTs using cryptocurrency.
Protecting Children in the Metaverse
Kids are some of the most vulnerable to bad actors in the metaverse. This is due to a number of factors, from those who target children, whether predators or fraudsters, and the inherent ability of kids to trust people and not critically think through possibly dangerous scenarios. This doesn’t mean that children should be banned from the metaverse, but with any social media platform or public situation, it’s up to the platform to give them the tools to ask questions and report, and the parents/guardians to teach kids before they enter the metaverse. Kids should be warned of the same list above, including not sharing personal information, and to report anything they think could feel wrong or dangerous in metaverse interactions, to the parent/guardian and then metaverse platform and local police authorities if warranted. Overall we believe certain Disney-like metaverse projects created and monitored specifically with the goal of being safe for children will spring up over time, but it’s important to be safe in the meantime and let kids know the ground rules for safety.
Keeping Your Data Safe in the Metaverse
Without a doubt companies will use metaverse platforms to harvest data for advertising and more. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal from Facebook users unwittingly using an app that leaked their personal data outside of the platform, to be used in political targeting and more, many people have a justifiable fear when it comes to personal data. This is a big fear when it comes to using their new metaverse platform, referred to as Meta.
It will be difficult to fully protect your data and choices from advertisers in a metaverse environment, but you can use ad blockers and tracker blockers, or browsers with the built-in technology to block the metaverse platform website and some third party services from tracking. If you’re using a specific app for your metaverse access, then this might be more difficult to achieve. You may also make a choice of which platforms you use, and the history of their ability to protect users from third party companies. At Metaversol we will never sell your information to third parties or track and save people’s personal data for nefarious purposes.
We hope you enjoyed this article on metaverse safety, and we wish you only the best experiences in whatever amazing metaverse environments you experience. Be sure to reach out with any questions, you can find us on Twitter and Discord.