Metaverse awash in rape, sexual harassment and racism?

Deepak Gupta June 1, 2022
Updated 2022/06/01 at 1:57 AM

The case of a woman who was raped in Meta’s metaverse, Horizon Worlds, is in the news during a party with people watching. A case that has been heard all too often in real life is now explained in the parallel universe of virtual reality.

However, this is not the only case and there are even those who claim that the metaverse is flooded with these situations, with sexual harassment, racism or xenophobia. But then what will be the purpose of this new world?

The investigator who entered the Metaverse and was raped

THE horizon platform comes to give users a social experience of the virtual world. It's being in a parallel universe, contacting other real people, but in the virtual universe. It is a platform of the company Meta, owner of Facebook and that makes use of products such as Meta Quest 2 glasses and controllers.

It was within the scope of a study carried out by SumOfUs, that a researcher entered a Horizon World and found herself at a private party. This study is entitled Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content (or in Portuguese, Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content).

In the report you can read the details of this experience, namely how the researcher felt.

Upon entering the platform, the woman was invited to a private party with other users and was suggested to turn off the security tool that, when activated, prevents other avatars from approaching, always staying at a distance greater than one meter, according to described.

She is then taken to a room where she was raped by a user who told her to turn her back while other users watched through the window. All this while another user was in the room, she watched and passed him a bottle of vodka.

As can be read, "this sexual act was not consensual and the investigator described the experience as "disorienting" and confusing.

A platform full of abuse cases

Although this is the story of the moment, the truth is that it is not unique. The study highlights other cases of sexual harassment not only on Horizon Worlds, but also on other virtual platforms that belong to Meta.

There are numerous cases reported to the company of racist, homophobic slurs and other crimes of sexual assault. For example, in Horizon Worlds (Beta Testing) a person complained to Meta about having been groped by a stranger, suggesting better mechanisms to prevent harassment. The claim did not result in any actions by Meta, as the user was still accused of inappropriate use of the platform.

Meanwhile, Meta is being pressured to publish a report highlighting the dangers that users are subject to in this type of virtual environment. There is also pressure to have an external annoyed perform an assessment of potential human rights and civil psychological harm to users and how they can be avoided.

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