A researcher is almost raped in the metaverse of Meta

“It all happened so quickly that I had the impression of being separated”, commented the researcher. Here is the detail of what came out of the SumOfUS report.

A new case of sexual harassment in the metaverse is in the news. This time, the victim was a researcher from SumOfUs, an international organization that specializes in “corporate responsibility”. In other words, SumOfUs work to counter the actions of corporate giants and to promote respect for the environment, employees and customers within them. One of the most recent reports the organization has written about Horizon Worlds, a virtual platform owned by metaverse Meta.

After an hour inside, the SumOfUs researcher was “taken to a private room at a party where she was raped.” The report is very detailed, and also refers to one user who was in the scene drinking virtual vodka, while others looked out the window, as if it were a scene. “It all happened so quickly that I had the impression of being separated”, commented the researcher. “Part of my brain was thinking about what was going on, another said it wasn’t my real body, another reminded me that [quello che stava accadendo] this is important for research. »

Other people told SumOfUs that they had experienced violence and harassment within Horizon Worlds. Among them, Nina Jane Patel reported that she was “almost raped by the gang” 60 seconds after a group of 3-4 male-looking avatars entered the platform. Patel also added that she immediately became the target of insults and obscene phrases because of the femininity of her avatar. Even someone who worked as a beta tester for Meta claimed to be a victim of sexual assault. When the Meta issue was reported, the company not only failed to take action against the attacker, but also blamed the beta tester for improper use of personal security measures.

This is the last point that stands out: within Horizon Wolds, moderation is extremely slow, leaving predators and violent behaviors unpunished. Even if the platform is only accessible to adults, the main users are minors. This is confirmed by various opinions published by users, complaining of a childish and hurtful atmosphere.

Although Meta is investing billions of dollars for the success of the metaverse, how is it possible to eclipse a fundamental element for the proper functioning of social platforms as moderate? The SumOfUs report also details the rebranding done by Meta/Facebook following the privacy scandals. An operation necessary for the launch of the metaverse according to Mark Zuckerberg, whose profits have always been linked to tracking users ’personal data in order to sell it to companies. In this case, virtual reality plays an important role. VR headsets can record body information, such as eye movements, facial expressions, and body temperature. A new frontier of “capitalist teaching”.

Aside from Meta and its platforms, the problem of a toxic culture of Metaverse virtual worlds remains deeply rooted. The victims were mostly women and members of ethnic minorities. Other cases of harassment include that of a BBC journalist and researcher, who was subjected to solicitations, sexual material, racial slurs and rape threats in the halls of VRChat, another metaverse platform, which is easily accessible. of children.

Unfortunately, the examples don’t end there, but what is sketched shows the neglect of the Big Tech giants, driven by the profit of ethical costs, and the dominance within the social spaces of a culture of violence. which aims to harm / embarrass another, even in the form of a 3D avatar. An alarming situation that needs to change, especially since the metaverse will take up a much larger area of ​​people’s daily lives.

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