The virtual world is now a new reality of crime and in some cases heinous crimes such as hate speech, rape and sexual violence. A report, “Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content,” published by an online watchdog SomeOfUs noted that the researcher was raped during their investigation into a virtual platform Horizon World, owned by Meta.
The reports said that in May 2022, SumOfUs researchers went into the Metaverse and were astonished by how quickly they encountered sexual harassment. After spending an hour in Horizon world 21-year-old female researcher was raped and all the other user’s avatars were seeing the incident. The researcher defined her experience as “disorienting” and Confusing.
SumOfUs is a non-profit organisation and an online community which works to set accountability for Big tech corporations. The report found how shortly the researcher confronts harassment when other users encouraged her to disable their personal boundaries settings.
The researcher told that when a user fondles another user, the victim’s hand controllers vibrate and generate a very disorienting and even disturbing physical experience during a virtual assault. Considering her experience, she said that “It happened so fast that I kind of disassociated. One part of my brain was like” what is happening, “the other part was like this isn’t a real body, and another part was like, this is important research.”
The report said that when the cases of sexual violence were reported on the Horizon World, Meta has introduced some safety features like a personal safety bubble and to mute, report or block other users, but these all can be easily bypassed, including by minors also. And users experience that these measures are not sufficient to make other users accountable for their abusive behaviour.
Meanwhile, the report also noted that within a few minutes its researcher experienced homophobic slurs, gun violence (including a shoot out at a house party), drugs laid out on a table, and a user stalking the researcher and following her into different worlds.
The report also laid down some suggestions for regulating meta. The report noted that the administration should consider the ”anti-competitive” and “predatory” practices of Mark Zuckerberg. Meta should not permit to acquire any other hardware, software or VR related streaming services without government scrutiny.
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