A researcher from 21 years reported having been sexually abused in the metaverse, the virtual reality world created by Mark Zuckerberg. The victim, who decided to remain anonymous, would have entered with an Oculus helmet to study the behavior of users of Horizon Worlds, Meta’s social networking platform, when she was attacked during a “party”.
The woman, who works for the global nonprofit advocacy organization SumOfUswrote a report titled “Metaverse: Another Toxic Cesspool” and offers a deeper look at concerns around the safety of women in the metaverse.
“The woman, a researcher from the organization, came in with an avatar of female appearance and sound and was sexually assaulted upon arrival“, explains the report.
According to his chronicle, everything happened very fast and had no chance to resist. She was guided to a party where everything seemed to run on the rails of the correctness and good manners.
But unexpectedly, his avatar was approached by a user while others were watching the scene and doing sexual comments about the situation. “Part of my brain didn’t understand what was happening,” she said.
The metaverse and its toxic content. Photo SumOfUs
About what happened there is a video with a disturbing tone that, according to the group, shows the facts from the perspective of the investigator. In one of the scenes, a male avatar is seen approaching a woman, while another of hers stares at her.
Meanwhile, in the tense 28 seconds that the filming lastsone avatar passes what appears to be an alcoholic beverage to another, while in the background, male voices are heard making off-color comments.
“She was taken to a private room at a party where she was raped by a user who told him to turn around so he could do it from behind while others some looked and others passed a bottle of vodka”, reads the report.
Violence in the metaverse
The rape scene where the attackers pass around a bottle of vodka.
The investigator who filed the complaint commented that the controller of her virtual reality helmet vibrated when the male avatars touched herwhich turned out to be a physical sensation that was a result of what he was experiencing online.
SumOfUs researchers also report experiencing homophobic insults and comments of a racist nature in Horizon World and who have witnessed gun violence on the platform.
In her defence, Meta commented that the SumOfUs researcher had disabled the Personal Boundary feature that prevents non-friends from coming within 4 meters of each other. “We do not recommend disabling this security feature with people you don’t know.”
With this option disabled, the other avatars were able to play virtually the investigator’s avatar, causing her hand controllers to vibrate, “creating a very disorienting and even disturbing physical experience”the organization said.
Mark Zuckerberg’s company said it has various tools to help people stay safe while in VR and this includes a safe zone buttonwhich allows you to block people who are bothering you, as well as the ability to report people or content.
“We want everyone who uses 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,” the Meta spokesperson said.
The recent complaint of sexual harassment was not the only case of its kind. At the beginning of the year, the case of Nina Jane Patel, a psychotherapist who publicly shared the “surreal nightmare” she experienced at Horizon Venues, became known.