søndag 17. april 2022

How China will censor the metaverse

It’s 2030, and you’re spending Saturday afternoon in your luxury virtual apartment in the metaverse. You’re sitting with a few avatar friends, on a newly purchased digital couch overlooking the pristine Pearl River, when someone brings up the breaking news of a female celebrity’s sexual assault allegations against a retired party official. You’re about to chime in when, suddenly, your mic cuts out.

What might China’s censorship in the metaverse look like? From online discussions of the Russia-Ukraine war to COVID-19 lockdown protests, Beijing has long reserved a zero-tolerance approach to politically sensitive contenton the Internet. The metaverse will be no different. Beijing will continue to censor illicit behaviors, drive the technology’s applications toward state priorities, and use the technology to further ideological aims.

The metaverse is a loosely defined virtual reality space where folks can interact with computer-generated worlds alongside other users. Though the idea is still in its infancy, the term, which appeared in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science-fiction novel Snow Crash, has become a trending tech topic over the last year in both the U.S. and China.

However, no mention of the metaverse has been made in any Chinese central government-issued documents so far. “My understanding is the central government is still taking a wait-and-see approach [with the metaverse] — studying it more and measuring the pros and cons before coming out with an official stance,” said Nina Xiang, a Chinese technology expert.