Mark Zuckerberg could SEIZE your metaverse belongings as professor issues warning over ‘virtual ownership’

A LEGAL scholar is questioning the logic, ethics and feasibility of true ownership in the metaverse.

It appears problems are baked into the virtual pie.


The metaverse is a digital world accessible by VR headset or desktopCredit: Liberland/Zaha Hadid Architects
Meta has a stake in the metaverse platform Horizon Worlds


Meta has a stake in the metaverse platform Horizon WorldsCredit: AP:Associated Press

Mark Zuckerberg’s company Meta, formerly Facebook, is betting big on the metaverse.

Meta spent $10billion on metaverse-related endeavors in 2021 and expects that number to rise.

And while there is much hype about the intersection of VR headsets, crypto, NFTs and digital ownership, there are plenty of skeptics as well.

“Unlike the blockchain itself, the terms of service for each metaverse platform are centralized and are under the complete control of a single company,” João Marinotti wrote for The Conversation. “This is extremely problematic for legal ownership.”

Marinotti notes that digital assets like NFTs and other metaverse goodies are “not governed by property law at all, but rather by contract law.”

That contract is a given platform’s terms and conditions sheet – documents that are normally lengthy, written in legal-ese and rarely read in full.

The contracts give users the right to access their digital assets through the world of their platform.

Marinotti writes “one day you might own a $200,000 digital painting for your apartment in the metaverse, and the next day you may find yourself banned from the metaverse platform, and your painting, which was originally stored in its proprietary databases, deleted.”

Metaverse enthusiasts often tout the “decentralized” nature of their virtual worlds – in fact, one of the more popular metaverse zones is called Decentraland.

But this very feature can lead to the seizure of digital assets by a private company.

Maronetti writes “the land, goods and characters in the metaverse, on the other hand, exist on private servers running proprietary code.”

Meaning the assets you see are churning in a farm of computers – one that you could be banned from in an instant.

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Digital assets have been ripe for scams and hacks as the unexplored and unregulated field of online ownership expands.

Now, private companies and their self-policing could pose another threat to users’ digital wallets.

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