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Meta is working on the ethics of the future virtual influencers

Meta is currently trying to push their Metaverse out into the world, but the finer details need to be ironed out. The first on the list is to create an “ethical framework” around virtual influencers.
As the idea of the Metaverse is expanded upon, a lot of elements of the virtual world are getting reworked to adapt to the virtual world – this includes influencers.

Meta, the collective company for Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, has released a framework created to ensure that the new generation of influencers and affiliate marketers adhere to advertising ethics.

What is a virtual influencer?

Virtual influencers can come in two forms, that we know of so far. There are traditional influencers simply represented by a virtual avatar in the Metaverse, with the real person controlling it and gaining business. And then, there are the entirely virtual characters representing a brand, or perhaps several brands, like an online mascot.

According to Meta, there are already more than 200 virtual influencers across the platforms, and that would somewhat make sense when you take into account V-Tubers, a genre of YouTube creators who never show their faces and are instead represented by an avatar.

As told by Meta: “These VIs (virtual influencers) boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”

What are the regulations?

Well, Meta’s first issue is that virtual influencers do not look like the manga-inspired avatars of V-Tubers or even the bubbly CGI avatars seen in the Metaverse trailer. They are instead photorealistic. So photorealistic that it can be hard to determine there isn’t a real person in the photo posted.

And there is also the concept of deep fakes, which are someone else’s face superimposed on someone else’s body. This can mean for marketing, that an influencer can pose as a celebrity and promote their brand.

Meta is currently working with developers and industry experts to create boundaries and establish terms of use on these concepts, and more.
This can be a big step for online marketing, but there will have to be clear regulations to make sure that no marketing program accidentally breaches ethics.