Sexual harassment, a problem already present in the metaverse?

Occurring in early December in Horizon Worlds, Meta’s social virtual reality platform, a case of sexual harassment would have been considered an act “Absolutely unhappy”.

The real world problems already present in the metaverse, the future of the Internet in particular praised by Mark Zuckerberg. Announced in 2019, Horizon Worlds is a virtual reality platform developed by Meta. In the past few days it has been available in the United States and Canada for people over the age of 18. Before that, it was only open to beta testers – people responsible for testing a product before it was made available to a wider audience. One of them claims he was a victim of sexual harassment in early December. “Sexual harassment is already a serious thing on the Internet, but virtual reality makes the experience more intense. Not only was I there last night to try, but there were other people present who supported this behavior “described the victim on the Horizon Worlds Facebook page, according to the site The border.

Reported to Meta, this incident would have been investigated by the company and taken into consideration “Absolutely unhappy”. According to Vivek Sharma, vice president of Horizon Worlds, the beta tester in question did not use the built-in security features, one of which in particular allows you to block a person.

Again for Vivek Sharma, this event constitutes “helpful feedback” because he wants this blocking feature to be easily found by users. Yet this incident also brings to mind Andrew Bosworth, Meta’s vice president of virtual reality and augmented reality, about the metaverse. On an internal note that the Financial Times he could consult, he shared some time ago his concerns about this virtual world that can be a “Toxic environment”, especially for women and minorities. He also recognized the moderation of the metaverse as impossible.

On November 12, the day on which the article in the Financial Times was published, Andrew Bosworth talked about the safety of life in virtual reality, with a blog post. “Harassment in digital spaces is nothing new, and it’s something we and others in the industry have been committed to for years (…) We want everyone to feel in control. A virtual reality experience and feel safe on the our platform “. He specifically explained that a “continuous buffer” it was developed for Horizon Worlds. Locally stored, it allows you to include information captured by the headset as evidence of an accident when someone sends a report. Additionally, Meta plans to invest $ 50 million in safety, ethics and responsible design research, working with academic and government experts. To see if these investments will be sufficient to guarantee the safety of users in the metaverse and above all that of the youngest. A few days ago, Roblox, the free-to-play, massively multiplayer online video game for children and teenagers, was spotted for reports of sexual harassment.

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