IGF 2023 WS #340 Governing the metaverse: Lessons from past platform policies

Organizer 1: Maria Paz Canales, 🔒 Global Partners Digital
Organizer 2: Jacqueline Rowe, 🔒Global Partners Digital
Organizer 3: Javier Ruiz Diaz, Consumers International

Speaker 1: Bertoni Eduardo, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Flavia Alves, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Brittan Heller, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Hamblett Hollie, Civil Society, Intergovernmental Organization
Speaker 5: Yuto Kunitake, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Javier Ruiz Diaz, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Maria Paz Canales, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Jacqueline Rowe, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Birds of a Feather - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. What is similar or different about metaverse trust and safety risks compared to those of existing digital platforms?
2. What are the specific areas of concern for building metaverse governance principles and processes that are underpinned by human rights?
3. How can we ensure a diversity of voices in building and applying rights-respecting metaverse governance principles and processes?

What will participants gain from attending this session? The discussions coming from this workshop are intended to shape the approach to trust and safety in the metaverse through developing recommendations for an inclusive and human rights-based governance model, seeking to ensure that corporate actors are held accountable for the human rights impacts of their immersive spaces and the policies that govern them, but also that the benefits of metaverse technologies can be equally accessed and enjoyed by all around the globe.
Participants and attendees of the session will take away:
Knowledge on the relevance of the human rights international framework for metaverse governance.
Deeper understanding of how the traditional online platform policy experience can be leveraged to apply lessons learned for metaverse governance.
Insight into some of the ongoing Trust and Safety efforts being developed by companies with metaverse products or applications.
Specific perspectives from the global south (majority world) on metaverse governance.


Metaverse create exciting opportunities for users to interact in real-time and in 3 dimensions and hold great potential for connecting individuals, facilitating shared spaces for scientific progress, social engagement and education. However, the real-time and embodied nature of immersive spaces also raises novel challenges for trust and safety.
Trust and safety mechanisms have generally been developed by and for those working for more traditional online platforms like social media platforms and video-sharing platforms. These policies and processes have shown that it is often difficult to agree on shared norms and values for permissible content online – particularly where the platform spans geographic and cultural divides – and then to enforce those rules consistently and in a non-discriminatory fashion. For metaverse, these challenges are only more salient – combined with additional challenges of moderating behaviour in real time, or addressing not only suspicious content or speech but also suspicious conduct.
Furthermore, deeper questions remain around how to determine and articulate what conduct or behaviour is permitted in metaverse spaces and who should have oversight of these rules and their enforcement. So far, most dominant immersive technology companies are based in global north countries, and as such, discussions around metaverse policies and governance have been centred on actors and users there. As with traditional platform governance issues, this poses risks to global majority users and communities whose perspectives and priorities are not incorporated into policy decisions.
This workshop is intended to enhance the ability of a broader group of stakeholders, particularly from the global south (majority world), to engage in these policy conversations about metaverse governance at an early stage. This workshop will have industry representatives, civil society organisations and technical experts from the global south exploring metaverse governance, focusing on how to improve trust and safety for marginalised and vulnerable groups.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes will be: i) providing civil society knowledge for a better informed and impactful advocacy around metaverse regulation; and ii) fostering policymakers, either public or private, seeking to regulate metaverse to do so in a well-informed, inclusive and rights-respecting fashion by empowering users and communities.

Hybrid Format: We will ensure interaction between onsite and online attendees by requesting questions throughout the session and ensuring the online moderator has a time to actively bring into the discussion inputs and questions being shared in the chat function by online attendees.
The design of the session will ensure the best possible experience for online and onsite participants as it will build in time for all modalities participants prompted by the onsite and online moderators coordination and the constant monitoring of the chat function.
The moderators will coordinate and play an active role by encouraging questions, and posing questions and comments shared in the chat function directly to the panellists. We will make use of other tools, if available, such as polls, to engage the audience and solicit input from attendees. We will also set aside time for attendees (onsite and online) interventions after each round of speakers interventions.