A researcher says her avatar was raped on Meta’s Metaverse platform

  • A nonprofit advocacy group says the explorer’s avatar was raped in the metaverse.
  • Other Meta users also said they had been sexually harassed or abused in the metaverse.
  • Meta investors wanted a report on the damage faced by consumers in the metaverse, but shareholders rejected the idea.

A researcher entered the metaverse, wanting to study the behavior of users in the social networking platform of Meta Horizon World. But within an hour of wearing her Oculus virtual reality (VR) headphones, she says she was raped in cyberspace.

“Metaverse: Another Toxic Pit,” a new report released by the nonprofit advocacy group SumOfUs on May 24, describes the violent meeting of the researcher at Meta’s Horizon World.

According to the SumOfUs account, users invited the researcher to a private party at Horizon World earlier this month. Users in the same room then asked her to disable a setting that prevented others from approaching four feet away.

The video report, which the group said, shows what happened to the researcher’s avatar from her point of view. The video shows a male avatar approaching her very close, while another male avatar stands nearby and watches. Then, according to the 28-second video, a bottle of what looks like alcohol is passed between the two avatars. Two male voices are heard in the video, making obscene comments.

In part of the video, which SumOfUs chose not to share but describes, the researcher “was taken to a private party room where she was raped by a user who kept telling her to turn around so she could do it from behind while users were outside, the window could see – while another user in the room watched and carried a bottle of vodka, “according to the report.

Although it happened in virtual reality, the incident left the researcher “disoriented”, she said in the report. The researcher noted that her controller vibrates when male avatars touch her, resulting in a physical sensation that results from what she experiences online.

“One part of my brain was like wtf happening, the other part was like it wasn’t a real body, and another part was like, this is important research,” she said in the report.

SumOfUs researchers also said they had experienced homophobic and racial insults at Horizon World and said they had witnessed gun violence on the platform.

Meta launched Horizon Worlds last December for users aged 18 and over in the United States and Canada. By February, there were at least 300,000 users of the platform, according to The Verge.

Four other users also recently claimed that their avatars were sexually assaulted or harassed on Horizon World and other Meta VR platforms, according to the SumOfUs report.

In November, a beta tester announced that her avatar had been palpated on Horizon Worlds.

At the time, Meta spokeswoman Christina Milian told the MIT Technology Review that consumers should have a “positive experience with safety tools that are easy to find – and it’s never the user’s fault if they don’t use all the features we offer.” We will continue to improve our user interface and better understand how people use our tools so that users can report things easily and reliably. Our goal is to make Horizon Worlds safe, and we are committed to doing that. “

But the following month, meta universe researcher Nina Jane Patem revealed in a Medium publication that within 60 seconds of joining Horizon Worlds, her avatar had been gang-raped by three to four male avatars.

That same month, The New York Times reported that the toy’s avatar had been groped in a shooter game owned by Meta. Separately, a player in the sports game Echo VR said that a male player told her that he had recorded her voice so that he could “pull” her curse.

SumOfUs and Meta did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment. In response to the SumOfUs report, a Meta spokesman told the Daily Mail that he did not recommend “turning off the safety feature with people you don’t know.”

At least two major investors in meta-universes have expressed concern about emerging details of harassment and abuse on its meta-universe platforms

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Metauniverse

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Meta has set its future in building its immersive virtual reality on a metaverse. He invested $ 10 billion in the design of the metaverse. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is playing a long game with his investment, recently saying the project could continue to lose money for the next three to five years, Insider reported.

However, at least two major investors in Meta have been alarmed by emerging details of harassment and abuse on its meta-universal platforms.

In December, investors Arjuna Capital and Storebrand Asset Management, along with SumOfUs and several other advocacy organizations, jointly requested Meta to publish a report examining the potential harm consumers could experience on its meta-universal platforms, the press said. release.

“Investors need to understand the extent of this potential damage and assess whether it is a good idea or not before throwing good money at bad money,” Arjuna Capital managing partner Natasha Lamb said in a statement.

At the Meta shareholders’ meeting on May 25, a proposal was presented to complete a third-party assessment of “potential psychological and civil and human rights harms to users that may be caused by the use and abuse of the platform” and “whether damages could be mitigated or avoided, or the risks inherent in the technology are unavoidable. “

However, the proposal was rejected.

Earlier this month, Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta Platforms, said in a blog post that “the rules and security functions of the metaverse – regardless of gender – will not be identical to those currently in place for social media. Nor should they be. “

But he continued: “In the physical world, as well as on the Internet, people are shouting and cursing and doing all sorts of nasty things that are not forbidden by law, and harassing and attacking people in the ways they are. The metaverse will not be different. People who want to abuse technology will always find ways to do it. “

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