Women are sexually abused in the metaverse

Disturbing reports of sexually abused and harassed women in the Metaverse are piling up, according to online watchdogs.

A 21-year-old woman says she was raped less than an hour after being raped in the metaverse, according to a new report from SumOfUs, a “nonprofit advocacy group and online community that campaigns to hold responsible businesses” for a variety of alleged violations .

The report – titled “Metaverse: Another Cesspool of Toxic Content” – delves deep into allegations that a woman has “virtually gang raped”, hate speech and content moderation issues at Meta, the new image controversial Facebook Inc.

The young woman, who works as a researcher for the group, was led into a private room during a party on “Horizon Worlds”, a metaverse platform launched by Meta in the United States and Canada last December that allows users to meet others, play games play and build their own virtual worlds.

She claimed her avatar was then raped by one user, while another watched and passed around a virtual bottle of vodka — and others could be seen peering through a window.

In a chilling music video posted by SumOfUs, an avatar is included that says, “Look at this. It’s a free show. Oh, I’ve got it. Get on that gritty, you heard. Meanwhile, the avatar of the spectator with: “You need more of that, boy” while passing the virtual liquor bottle around. “Hey free show!” the avatar can then be heard yelling.

The avatar of a 21-year-old woman was raped less than an hour after logging into the metaverse. It was one of several reports of sexual harassment and assault in the VR universe.
SumOfUs / Horizon Worlds
She reported that the attack was “disorienting” as the man raped her in the virtual reality world and another stared at him and cheered him on as he passed a bottle of virtual vodka.
SumOfUs / Horizon Worlds

When a user is hit by another in the metaverse, the controllers vibrate, “creating a very disorienting and even disturbing physical experience during a virtual attack.”

“It happened so fast that I distanced myself a bit. Part of my brain was like ‘WTF is going on’, the other part was like ‘this isn’t a real body’, and another part was like ‘this is important research,’ the researcher said anonymously in the report. .

The watchdog also noted that “virtual reality users have long reported sexual harassment, verbal abuse, racist remarks and intrusion of personal space in numerous apps.”

“Minimum moderation” in these VR worlds has allowed the behavior in question to “prosper”. † † especially to feminine looking and feminine sounding avatars.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at a live virtual and augmented reality conference to announce Facebook's renaming as Meta
Formerly known as Facebook, Meta has expanded into the metaverse in recent months, but reports indicate that the virtual reality universe is largely unregulated.
VIA REUTERS

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spearheaded a massive campaign to move his company to the Metaverse, an all-digital virtual reality environment accessible through headsets or similar technology.

When confronted with the horrific attack that took place in the metaverse, a Meta spokesperson noted that the researcher had disabled the Personal Boundary feature.

Launched in February as a security tool enabled by default, the feature prevents non-friends from coming within 4 feet of your avatar.

Meta representatives did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment, but a company spokesperson told the Daily Mail: “We don’t recommend turning off the security feature on people you don’t know. I don’t know.”

They also noted several other safety tools designed to help people stay safe in VR environments, including the Safe Zone button, which allows users to block people who harass you and report them or certain inappropriate content.

“We want everyone who uses our products to have a good experience and easily find the tools that can help in situations like this so that we can investigate and take action,” added the Meta spokesperson.

Avatars hanging out in the metaverse
Metaverse refers to shared virtual world environments that people can access through the Internet or VR technology to interact with other users around the world.
SumOfUs / Horizon Worlds

The SumOfUs report also mentioned other instances of sexual harassment that have occurred in the metaverse.

An anonymous beta tester for “Horizon Worlds” has filed a complaint with the app, claiming that his “avatar was groped by a stranger”.

In 2021, co-founder and vice president of Metaverse Research at Kabuni Nina Jane Patel shared her experience of being “verbally and sexually harassed” within 60 seconds of logging into “Horizon Worlds”. She reported that three to four male avatars “virtually raped” her and took pictures while yelling rude comments.

While logging into the “Population One” app, which is owned by Meta, Chanelle Siggens said she was approached by another gamer, who then “pretended to feel and cum on her avatar.” Another “Population One” user, Mari DeGrazia, said she witnessed harassment through the app more than three times a week. DeGrazia was also assaulted while wearing a VR vest when “another player touched her avatar’s chest”.

While exploring the metaverse connected to “Lone Echo VR”, another app owned by Meta, Sydney Smith came across “indecent and sexist comments” while another player claimed to have “recorded” her. [voice]to “subtract”. After the disturbing incident, Smith described having trouble notifying the player in-game.

SumOfUs said harassment and assault aren’t isolated to Meta-owned apps, but noted that many apps can be accessed through the Meta Oculus Quest headset.

The report listed three key steps to take to regulate the VR universe.

  • First, according to the report, “regulators must address Mark Zuckerberg’s predatory and anticompetitive practices.”
  • Second, it is “alarming that to date the United States does not have adequate data protection laws to protect consumers from abusive data collection practices across all platforms, allowing companies like Meta to sell data to third parties with little oversight.”
  • Third, while the Digital Services Act (DSA) is enshrined in law in Europe, other governments around the world must “use this landmark legislation as a model for regulating Big Tech companies in their own jurisdictions.”

Another report found that incidents of sexual harassment and assault in the Metaverse are generally met with “dismissive, abusive and misogynistic” responses, according to MIT Technology Review.

More broadly, however, the majority of American adults agree that online harassment is a problem, with 41% saying they have experienced some form of harassment in digital spaces, according to a study by Pew Research.

Jesse Fox, an associate professor at Ohio State University who studies the social implications of virtual reality, told MIT: “People should keep in mind that sexual harassment never has to be something physical. It can be verbal, and yes, it can be. be a virtual experience.

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