A researcher was almost raped in Meta’s metavers

“Everything happened so fast that I had the impression of being separated,” the researcher comments. Here is in detail what appears in the SumOfUS report.

A new case of sexual harassment in the metaverse is in the news. This time, the victim is a researcher from SumOfUs, an international organization specializing in “corporate responsibility”. In other words, SumOfUs works to counteract the actions of corporate giants and promote respect for the environment, employees and customers in them. One of the most recent reports written by the organization relates to Horizon Worlds, a virtual platform belonging to Metaverse Meta.

After an hour inside, the SumOfUs researcher was “led to a private room for a party where she was raped.” The report is very detailed and also refers to the fact that one user present at the site drank virtual vodka while others looked out the window as if it were a spectacle. “Everything happened so fast that I had the impression of being separated,” the researcher comments. “Part of my brain wondered what was going on, another said it was not my real body, another reminded me of it [quello che stava accadendo] it was important for the research. »

Other people have told SumOfUs that they have experienced violence and harassment inside Horizon Worlds. Among them, Nina Jane Patel reported that she was “largely gang-raped” 60 seconds after a group of 3-4 male-like avatars entered the platform. Patel also added that she immediately became the target of insults and obscene sentences due to the feminine appearance of her avatar. Even someone who worked as a beta tester for Meta claims to have been sexually abused. When the company reported the problem to Meta, the company not only failed to intervene against the attacker, but also accused the beta tester of improper use of personal security modes.

It is this last point that stands out: Within Horizon Wolds, moderation is incredibly bland, leaving predators and violent attitudes unpunished. Although the platform is only available to adults, the main users are minors. This is confirmed by the various opinions posted by users who complain about a childish and offensive atmosphere.

Still, Meta has invested billions of dollars for the success of the metaverse, how is it possible to obscure a basic element for social platforms to work properly, such as moderation? The SumOfUs report also describes rebranding performed by Meta / Facebook after the privacy scandals. An operation necessary for the launch of the metaverse, according to Mark Zuckerberg, whose profits are always linked to the tracking of users’ personal data in order to resell them to companies. In this case, virtual reality plays a central role. VR headsets can record bodily information, such as eye movements, facial expressions, and body temperature. A new frontier for “capitalist tutelage”.

In addition to Meta and its platforms, the problem of a toxic culture in Metaver’s virtual worlds remains deeply entrenched. The victims are mainly women and members of ethnic minorities. Other cases of harassment include the case of a BBC journalist and researcher who was subjected to harassment, sexual material, racist slander and threats of rape in the halls of VRChat, another metavers platform, easily accessible to children.

Unfortunately, the examples do not end there, but what is outlined shows the neglect of Big Tech giants, motivated by profit at the expense of ethics, and the predominance within the social spaces of one cultural violence aimed at harming / humiliating the other, even in the form of a 3D avatar. An alarming situation that deserves a turnaround, especially as the meta-verse will have an ever-increasing place in people’s daily lives.

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