Women “groped” on Horizon Worlds Metaverse

A beta tester claims she was virtually “groped” on Meta’s Horizon Worlds metaverse VR platform, originally known as Facebook.

Meta revealed the incident on December 1, stating that it occurred on November 26. The woman reported the incident on the Horizon Worlds beta testing Facebook group.

According to Verge, she said, “Sexual harassment is no laughing matter on the regular internet, but being in VR adds another dimension that increases the event.” “Not only was I grabbed last night, but there were other people there who favored this behavior, which made me feel uneasy and isolated in the Plaza.”

Horizon Worlds is described as a joyful is productive digital escape, a place to “create and have fun” and “discover experiences that matter” with your friends. As Meta described, it will also be the future of social media. It is operated by VR firm Oculus, also owned by Meta. Currently, the platform can handle up to 20 participants in a single virtual session.

According to a 2020 Pew Research poll, “severe” online harassment — including physical threats, stalking, and “repeated” harassment — is on the rise, with the number of users reporting such experiences increasing from 15% in 2014 to 25% currently. While much of it occurs on social media, Metaverse is still developing and is already a recognized platform for harassment.

Meta emphasized its “Safe Zone” feature in its statement about the situation, which allows users to block interactions with other users. However, the company acknowledged that it needed to work on making the function “extremely easy and findable,” according to Vivek Sharma, Horizon’s vice president, in a statement to the Verge. According to Meta spokesperson Kristina Milian, users are expected to complete training that covers safeguarding tools before joining Horizon Worlds, and reminders are also provided during users’ sessions.

Meta emphasized its “Safe Zone” feature in its statement about the situation, which allows users to block interactions with other users. However, the company acknowledged that it needed to work on making the function “extremely easy and findable,” according to Vivek Sharma, Horizon’s vice president, in a statement to the Verge. According to Meta spokesperson Kristina Milian, users are expected to complete training that covers safeguarding tools before joining Horizon Worlds, and reminders are also prompted during users’ encounters.

Those who have experienced sexual harassment in VR elsewhere claim that Meta’s Safe Zone functionality is insufficient. “In general, when companies face online abuse, their response is to outsource it to the users and say, ‘Here, we offer you the power to take care of yourself,'” Cross explained. Meanwhile, Meta’s Milian insisted that it’s “never a user’s fault if they don’t use all of the services we offer” and that the platform will be “improved” in the future.

As per the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans feel that permanently suspending the social media accounts of individuals who harass others is “extremely helpful” in preventing online harassment. According to the same data, 48% believe that requiring users to disclose their identities would be very effective, and 43% believe that criminal charges for online bullies would be “very effective.”

Temporary bans on people who harass others online were deemed the least successful approach of dealing with online harassment by Pew Research Center survey participants, with only 31% believing it was “very effective.”

Whether the solutions are effective or not, a problem like this only grew after introducing social media and the internet. And it will spread like wildfire in the Metaverse cause it’s gonna allow people to feel the like human touch. So does that mean the evolution of technology is stormy? Well NO. A big company like Meta (former facebook) should take ‘proper’ measurements against these issues or implement user-friendly and easy-to-access features to block those kinds of activities.

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