VRChat investigation finds rampant child grooming and other safety issues

Deepak Gupta February 24, 2022
Updated 2022/02/24 at 1:33 AM

One of the most popular VR apps you can download on Steam and Meta’s Oculus Quest Store has a child safety issue. If you’re not familiar with VRChat, the app is defined as “the future” of social virtual reality. “Our vision for VRChat is to allow anyone to create and share their own social virtual worlds,” says the game’s developer in his blog post. . With some understanding of Unity, players can create their own social spaces and avatars. This means that you can see a lot of creativity on display in VRChat, but there is also a dark side to it as the found.

Impersonating a 13-year-old girl, BBC Researcher Jess Sherwood said she walked into a virtual strip club where she saw adult men chasing a child while telling her to take her clothes off. In many of the rooms Sherwood visited, she often saw condoms and sex toys on display, and on one occasion she even saw a group of men, adults and minors simulating group sex. She also saw cases of cleanliness.

“It’s very uncomfortable, and your options are to stay and watch, move to another room where you can see something similar or participate – which, on many occasions, I’ve been instructed to do,” she said.

“Predatory and toxic behavior has no place on the platform,” VRChat told BBC. The developer added that it was “working hard to become a safe and welcoming place for everyone.” Part of the problem stems from the fact that almost anyone can download and play VRChat. For example, to download the Oculus Quest Store app, all you need is a Facebook account. Sherwood created a fake profile to set up her account and access VRChat, and users of all ages can freely mingle with no age restriction.

When we contacted the company, a spokesperson for VRChat said that Ploonge user safety was their top priority. “It is likely that if it were reported, much of the content you described would be removed immediately,” they said. “Likewise, the users you described were acting in a manner that would almost certainly have led to their accounts being terminated if they had been reported to our Trust & Safety team.”

The spokesperson added that VRChat includes several tools for reporting harassment. The company’s Trust and Security team has the ability to use metadata to track problematic users. Depending on the severity of someone’s actions, this team can hand out suspensions and permanent bans.

Sherwood isn’t the first person to realize that VRChat has a child safety issue. While the game has a “Very Positive” rating on Steam, the presence of predatory adults is something you’ll often see referenced in both positive and negative reviews. “An enjoyable social VR slowly being ruined by horny degenerates and ddosers,” said one player with over 2,300 hours spent in the game.

“The amount of ‘people’ in their 30s trying to do things like flirt to try to have electronic sex with clearly underage users is alarming,” said another player.

VRChat isn’t the only metaverse app dealing with what amounts to a harassment issue. In early February, a feature was added to give users the ability to block people from entering their personal space. More recently, Microsoft took the dramatic step of removing .

Update 3:06 pm ET: Added more VRChat information.

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