On Thursday, a 21-year-old researcher for SumOfUs said that her avatar in Meta’s virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds was sexually abused.
On Horizon Worlds, the video shows the woman’s avatar in a virtual room with two male avatars. One of the avatars is looking around, and the other one seems to be close to the woman. Both of the men’s avatars are heard making sexual comments.
Even though the assault didn’t happen in real life, SumOfUs director Vicky Wyatt said that “it still counts, it still has a meaningful effect on people.”
The organization says that the researcher also heard homophobic comments and saw virtual gun violence.
Wyatt told Meta that she needs to act quickly to deal with problems.
“Rather than Facebook rushing headlong into building this metaverse, we’re saying look, you need to stop and look at all the harms that are happening on your platforms right now that you can’t even deal with. Let’s not repeat and replicate those in the metaverse. We need a better plan here on how to mitigate online harms in the metaverse.”
Meta’s Horizon Worlds has been accused of sexual assault and harassment in the virtual world before.
In February, a psychiatrist talked about how she was “virtually gang raped” in Facebook’s metaverse. She said that the simulation’s improvement in technology made it seem real.
The researcher in the metaverse said she was “shocked” when three or four avatars attacked her soon after she entered the virtual world.
After the attack, Meta added more security measures to prevent future ones. One of these is “Personal Boundary,” which is turned on by default and keeps users from getting into each other’s personal space.