Researcher 'sexually assaulted' on Meta’s VR platform, says consumer group

Campaigners have claimed that Meta’s VR platform Horizon Worlds is a hotbed for sexual assault, racism, and homophobia.

Global consumer group SumOfUs says the metaverse game could “exacerbate" online harms and human rights abuses, which it says the company is already failing to address on existing platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Earlier this month researchers from the group went into the metaverse and said they were “astonished” by how quickly they encountered sexual harassment.

One researcher said that just an hour into using the platform she was sexually assaulted while other users watched.

SumOfUs said that the sexual act was non-consensual and the researcher described the experience as “disorienting” and confusing.

Researchers also reported seeing racist comments, homophobic slurs, conspiracy theories, and graphic content on the platform.

"In Horizon Worlds, Personal Boundary is default on at almost 4 foot for non-friends to make it easier to avoid unwanted interactions," said a spokesperson from the ARVR team at Meta in the UK. "We don’t recommend turning off the safety feature with people you do not know.

"We want everyone using our products to have a good experience and easily find the tools that can help in situations like these, so we can investigate and take action.”

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