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9th Aug 2022

Zuckerberg's Metaverse ripe for terror recruitment, says EU

  • Flowers for the victims of the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Terrorists could re-enact real attacks in the Metaverse, warns the EU (Photo: Eric Maurice)
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Mark Zuckerberg's Metaverse could become a new breeding ground for terrorism and recruitment, according to an EU internal document seen by EUobserver.

"The creation of a virtual caliphate or Da'esh base camp is one of the risks linked with this new world," says the paper dated 2 June and drafted by the EU's counter-terrorism coordinator.

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The Metaverse offers new ways to coordinate, plan and execute acts of terrorism, it says.

This includes staging or recreating immersive major terrorist attacks like the 2015 Paris attacks on the national stadium, Bataclan concert venues and street cafes, in which 137 people died.

The paper goes on to say that the decentralised financing of crypto-currencies could also further help terrorist organisations to operate their own Metaverses.

The EU police agency, Europol, is already looking into how to crack down on potential crimes in the virtual world, it states.

Zuckerberg has touted the Metaverse as a fully interactive and immersive experience that allows users via avatars to engage with 3D virtual surroundings.

"Although still under construction, the Metaverse holds the potential for violent extremists to exert influence in new ways through fear, threat and coercion," says the 14-page paper.

The paper says the immersive experience may lead to higher level of vulnerability for those prone to messaging of terrorist recruitment cells, while dampening their emotions for greater manipulation.

The paper also warns that the Metaverse could be used to spread extremist ideology as well as lead to the creation of the multiple Metaverse versions or Metaverse-like environments.

"Extremist organisations could create Metaverse spaces where they freely spread disinformation and hate speech, and where rejection of democracy brings people together," it says.

It offers other cryptic warnings, noting that terrorists could also stage attacks inside the Metaverse, including the mass killings of avatars or virtual beheadings.

"These attacks can have repercussions in real life," says the paper.

It then recommends a policy discussion in the Council, representing member states. It says the council's working party on terrorism (TWP) and the standing committing on operational cooperation and internal security (Cosi), should be involved in those talks.

It also recommends looking into the existing legal framework for possible tweaks when it comes to the terrorist content online regulation, the digital services act, and the anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing legislation.

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