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Meta Adds ‘Personal Boundary’ Zones in VR to Limit Harassing Behavior

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Meta Adds 'Personal Boundary' Zones in VR to Limit Harassing Behavior

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It’s disappointing, but one thing that you can always be certain of with any socially-aligned technology is that some people are going to use it to harass and abuse others, in any way that they can.

Most recently, that’s come up in virtual reality, with various incidents of women being attacked in Meta’s evolving VR world, in exceedingly concerning ways.

Back in December, The Verge reported that a beta tester for Meta’s Horizon Worlds functionality, which is its social media replacement in VR, was groped by a stranger within the digital realm. Then earlier this month, a woman said that she had been virtually gang-raped” in the VR environment.

These are obviously major problems, especially as Meta looks to make a bigger shift towards VR as part of its metaverse development. Which is why today, again disappointingly, Meta has been forced to implement a new personal boundary for VR avatars in both Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues.

As explained by Meta:

“Personal Boundary prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions. Personal Boundary will begin rolling out today everywhere inside of Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, and will by default make it feel like there is an almost 4-foot distance between your avatar and others.”

This is why we can’t have nice things.

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Of course, functionally, that doesn’t change much in the current VR space, it’s only disappointing in the fact that we need such measures at all. But again, evidently, we do, and with Meta seeking to convert as many people as it can over to its new, more immersive connection spaces – especially with its main app now losing active users – it’s obviously felt the need to implement such protection measures immediately to avoid any further harm and negative reports.

Because as Jeff Goldblum’s character notes in Jurassic Park: “nature finds a way”, which works in both a positive and negative sense. Social media platforms have provided more ways to stay connected with others than ever before, we’re now more able to find more like-minded people, learn more about other cultures, and explore individual niches and interests in ways that simply weren’t possible in times past.

But social media has also facilitated the formation of increasingly harmful groups, the concerted harassment of people with dissenting opinions, the spread of misinformation and disinformation at huge scale, and the objectification and violation of users for any reason that people may choose.

Users should not have to deal with these elements, we should, in theory, be able to utilize these technologies for good, which has been the underlying hope of social media CEOs and visionaries, who’ve often seemingly turned a blind eye to the flip-side of the coin. But the impact of such harms is significant, arguably more significant than the positives, on balance.

But there’s no going back now, social platforms are already embedded into how we interact, which means that the host providers simply have to work at improving their systems to cater for misuse, and counter it wherever they can.

It’s not possible to eliminate such behavior entirely. Again, this is human nature, and as Meta’s executives have repeatedly noted, its platforms are merely a reflection of society and broader societal trends. It’s not Meta’s fault that people have negative impulses and choose to project them via its apps.

But then again, it also is – which is why Meta is doing all it can to address these issues.

VR opens up all new forms of harassment, and will provide a medium for many more incidents like this. And that’s before we get into the more questionable use cases for VR technology, and the impacts that they might have on people’s behavior.

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Surely putting users into a more immersive, virtual environment where they can harass and demean people, and commit fictional crimes, is not great for their mental approach to real life, and how they can act in public. Yet, that’s very likely where we’re headed, with Meta set to launch Grand Theft Auto in VR sometime this year.

GTA in VR

It does look like an interesting and engaging gaming experience. But the way that characters are treated in GTA is overly negative, and various studies have shown that playing violent video games in 2D, especially GTA, form can increase aggressive behaviors, and desensitize people to violence.

I can only imagine the same applies more directly to a fully immersive experience like this. Of course, GTA VR will be rated R, and will only, theoretically, be available to adults. Just like every other GTA game.

It’s a major concern – when you’re building an alternative world, with more stimulants and more inputs to immerse yourself into an entirely different environment, that also cranks up the risk factors, and could lead to much bigger mental and developmental impacts in different ways.

But again, tech CEOs seem blinded by the positives and the potential of what’s to come. This will replace real-world interactions, and create all new ways to interact, and to share unique experiences with your loved ones, reducing loneliness and enabling virtually anything that you can dream of.

But not all dreams are filtered through a positive lens, and not all people will be aligned in the same approach.

Overlooking the negatives might help Meta make more money, but it will also lead to more real-world harm, in many ways.

Building in buffer zones for avatars is a disappointingly necessary development. But it’s likely only the start.

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LinkedIn Launches ‘Document Ads’, Offline Conversion Data Integration and More

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LinkedIn Launches ‘Document Ads’, Offline Conversion Data Integration and More

LinkedIn has announced some new ad tools to help you maximize your LinkedIn campaigns, including Document Ads, offline conversion data integration, and a new Media Library for storing and sourcing ad content.

First off, on Document Ads – as it sounds, LinkedIn will now enable advertisers to promote long-form documents direct in user feeds, which can also be made available via sign-up to maximize response data.

As you can see in this example, LinkedIn’s Document Ads provide a preview in the feed (three pages in this instance), in order to entice users to download the full research piece.

If you choose to add a lead-gen form, you can gather more insight about the people who are interested in your documents, while you can also make your document free to download from the promoted update, with LinkedIn then able to provide data on which members downloaded it.

The format could help marketers capitalize on the popularity of LinkedIn’s Carousel posting option, which enables users to share a document in a post that users can then scroll through in-stream.

LinkedIn made Carousel posts available as an official option back in July, though users had actually been creating their own document carousels for some time, by uploading a PDF as a post attachment, which essentially facilitates the same functionality.

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And the format has proven to be effective. According to insights from SocialInsider, native documents and Carousels generate 3x more clicks than any other type of content in the app (even video posts).

LinkedIn carousel example

Given this, Document Ads could be a good addition, likely worthy of an experiment the next time you have a longer piece to share in the app.

LinkedIn’s also added the capacity to include Offline Conversion data within your ad process in the app.

Offline Conversions enables you to connect the offline conversions you track via other tools directly to LinkedIn. You can manually upload CSV files directly to Campaign Manager or leverage a LinkedIn Marketing Partner. Supported partners include Adverity, HubSpot, LeadsBridge, LiveRamp, and Make.”

The process enables you to include additional performance data, like in-person transactions, phone calls, or sales in your CRM, within your LinkedIn campaign measurement and optimization process. Which could be a good way to improve response, based on data matching, helping to better focus LinkedIn’s targeting on the right elements.

Finally, LinkedIn’s also adding a new Media Library option, where you’ll be able to save all of the media elements that you use in your LinkedIn campaigns.

The media library is a single location for uploading, managing, and selecting media for ad creation, which helps you save time, drive better performance, and improve collaboration.”

Similar to media library options in other apps, LinkedIn will now provide a repository for your ad creative, which will then make it easier to reuse and repurpose ad content in new campaigns.

For example:

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You can create up to five ads at once; all you have to do is select the image or video you want to use (or re-use) from the media library and each will become its own ad. Since any marketer with the necessary permissions can access an account’s media library, it also makes collaborating with teammates within a single account much easier.”

Advertisers will be able to access the Media Library within the campaign creation process for single image ads and video ads, though you won’t be able to access it outside of this.

Some worthy additions, which could help to enhance your LinkedIn marketing approach.

You can download a guide to LinkedIn’s Document Ads here, find out more info on setting up offline conversions here, and get more insights into the new Media Library at this link.

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