Microsoft closes AltspaceVR social hubs to fight harassment

Deepak Gupta February 16, 2022
Updated 2022/02/16 at 6:22 PM

Microsoft is to combat harassment within the virtual reality app. As of today, the company has removed Campfire, News and Entertainment Commons social spaces. These were hubs where AltspaceVR users could freely meet and chat with each other. But that same freedom also meant that harassment was an ongoing problem.

By default, AltspaceVR feature is now enabled for all users. It creates a barrier to prevent others from entering your avatar’s personal space. Last but not least, Microsoft says the app will automatically mute new attendees when they first join an event. The company also promised to increase moderation and improve event content ratings to complement these changes.

In the coming weeks, Microsoft said it would require people to use a Microsoft account to access AltspaceVR. As a result of this requirement, parents will have the option to use the company’s Family Safety feature to limit how much time their children can spend on the app.

“As platforms like AltspaceVR evolve, it’s important that we look at existing experiences and assess whether they’re adequately meeting customer needs today and in the future,” said Alex Kipman, head of Microsoft’s mixed reality division. “This includes helping people better connect with those who share common interests, as well as ensuring the spaces they access are safe from inappropriate behavior and harassment.”

The changes come as other VR platforms deal with their own harassment issues. In early February, Meta released a feature called . Like AltspaceVR’s Safety Bubble, it exists to prevent people from entering your personal space. More broadly, the changes seem to indicate that Microsoft is committed to working on some version of the metaverse, despite recent reports suggesting that the company’s mixed reality division has lost significant numbers of employees to competitors like Meta.

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