Metaverse arrives with virtual celebrities in China  

China is embracing virtual celebrities, computer-generated avatars operated by people, over real-life stars. These virtual entities, like Carol from ByteDance, are gaining massive followings and are favored by companies for their cost efficiency and control. However, concerns arise as the line blurs between virtual and real life, with reports of mistreatment of the humans behind these avatars. As China’s virtual-celebrity market’s value skyrockets to $16 billion in 2021, discussions about the impact of the metaverse on society, from human welfare to labor rights, become crucial.

Virtual celebrities are becoming popular in China instead of real-life ones. Virtual celebrities are avatars generated by computers and operated by anonymous humans.

They sing, dance, and talk like real-life celebrities. Some of them like Carol from ByteDance have millions of followers.

Companies are happy to use virtual celebrities as they cost much less than real ones and they can be controlled easily.

The estimated value of the virtual-celebrity market in China is $16bn in 2021.

But new problems emerge. According to the Economist coverage, the real person behind Carol’s avatar complained about being ‘bullied, overworked and underpaid’ by ByteDance.

Is this a glimpse of an emerging metaverse economy with more centralised control and fewer rights for human beings?

As billions are invested into metaverse economy worldwide, companies, countries, and citizens should start discussing impact of metaverse on society from human well being to labour rights.