07/06/2022
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • A nonprofit advocacy group says the researcher’s avatar was raped in metaverse.
  • Other Meta users have also said that they have been sexually harassed or abused in the Metaverse.
  • Meta investors wanted a report on the harm Meta users were facing, but shareholders rejected the idea.

The researcher entered the metaverse to study user behavior on the Meta Horizon World social networking platform. But within an hour of putting on her VR glasses, she said she was raped in virtual space.

“Metaverse: Another Sink of Toxic Content,” a new report released May 24 by nonprofit advocacy group SumOfUs, details a violent researcher encounter at Meta’s Horizon World.

As reported by SumOfUs, users invited the researcher to a private party on Horizon World earlier this month. Then users in the same room asked her to turn off a setting that prevents others from coming within three feet of her.

The report linked to a video the group said showed what happened to the researcher’s avatar from their perspective. In the video, a male avatar can be seen getting very close to her while another male is standing nearby and watching. According to a 28-second video, a bottle that looks like alcohol is then passed between the two photos. In the video, two male voices can be heard making obscene comments.

In part of the video, which SumOfUs chose not to share but rather described, “The researcher was taken to a private room at a party where she was raped by a user who kept asking her to turn around so he could.” Users outside can see the window – while another user in the room watches and passes a bottle of vodka.”

Although it took place in virtual reality, the incident left the researcher “confused,” she said in the report. The researcher noticed that her console vibrated when the male avatars touched it, resulting in a physical sensation that was the result of what she was experiencing online.

“I felt like a part of my brain was happening, a part like this wasn’t a real body, and a part like this was important research,” she said in the report.

SumOfUs researchers also reported experiencing racist and homophobic insults at Horizon World and said they witnessed gun violence on the platform.

Meta Horizon Worlds launched last December for users over the age of 18 in the United States and Canada. As of February, there were at least 300,000 users on the platform, according to Rand.

According to a SumOfUs report, four other users recently claimed that their avatars were sexually assaulted or harassed by Meta in Horizon World and other virtual reality platforms.

In November, a beta tester reported that her avatar had been harassed in Horizon Worlds.

Meta spokeswoman Christina Milian told the MIT Technology Review at the time that “users should have a positive experience with security tools that are easy to find — and it’s never a user’s fault if they don’t take advantage of 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 that. “

But the following month, Metaverse researcher Nina Jane Batim revealed in a post on Medium that her avatar was gang-raped by three to four looking avatars within 60 seconds of joining Horizon Worlds.

That same month, the New York Times reported that a player’s avatar had been groped in a shooting game. Separately, an Echo VR gamer said a player told her he recorded her voice so he could “take in” her swearing.

SumOfUs and Meta did not immediately respond to insider requests for comment. In response to the SumOfUs report, a Meta spokesperson told the Daily Mail that it is not recommended to “turn off security on people you don’t know.”

At least two major investors in Metaverse have expressed concern about new details regarding harassment and abuse on their Metaverse platforms.

metaverse

Meta has staked its future on building its own immersive Metaverse virtual reality. You’ve poured $10 billion into designing the metaverse. Insider reported that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is playing the long game with his investments, and recently said that the project may continue to lose money over the next three to five years.

However, at least two major investors panicked when details of harassment and abuse surfaced on their Metaverse platforms.

In December, investors Arjuna Capital and Storebrand Asset Management, along with SumOfUs and several other advocacy groups, submitted a proposal calling for Meta to release a report examining the potential harm users might face on their Metaverse platforms, they said in a press release.

“Investors need to understand the scale of this potential damage and whether or not this is a good idea before throwing in good money after bad,” Arjuna Capital managing partner Natasha Lamb said in the press release.

At the May 25 Meta shareholder meeting, a third-party proposal and assessment was presented on “the potential psychological, civil and human rights harms to users that may result from the use and abuse of the platform” and “whether the harms will be mitigated or avoided.” The risks inherent in unavoidable technology can or may be implemented.

However, the proposal was voted on.

Earlier this month, Nick Clegg, head of global affairs at Meta Platforms, said in a blog post that “regardless of the floor, the Metaverse’s security rules and features will not be the same as they currently exist for social media. Nor should they be.”

But he continued, “In the physical world, as well as on the internet, people are screaming and swearing and doing all kinds of embarrassing things that aren’t prohibited by law, harassing and attacking people in the way it is. The Metaverse will be no different. People who want to abuse technology will always find ways to do that. “.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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