The company Meta, owner of brands such as Oculus, Facebook and WhatsApp, expanded the tests with the public of its metaverse platform. Horizon Worlds has been released to a few thousand volunteers across the United States and Canada, giving them the chance to visit public squares and participate in games, conversations and events.
But the virtual service already seems too real: different abusive behaviors have been denounced in recent weeks, including what is already considered the first harassment recorded in the history of this metaverse.
According to The Verge, the case happened with a woman who participated in a test and reported on the Horizon Worlds forums that she had her avatar “groped” by a stranger. “Sexual harassment is no joke on the normal internet, but being in Virtual Reality adds a whole new layer that makes the event even more intense,” the victim wrote.
Without having her name disclosed, the volunteer also reported that several people around “supported the behavior” and did not provide any help, which only made her even more uncomfortable. The incident took place in the Plaza, Horizon Worlds’ main public environment.
In a conversation with The Verge, the project’s vice president, Vivek Sharma called the case “absolutely unhappy” and says the company has already analyzed what happened.
However, he also placed some of the blame on the participant herself: Sharma reported that at no time did she not use the safety mechanisms of the metaverse, the so-called Safe Zone (“Safe Zone”).
As the video shows, it opens a special menu and creates a “bubble” on your avatar, allowing you to be isolated, put people around you on mute or block mode, and allow reporting.
Meta also recognized that the complaint was important and can use this type of case to facilitate the opening of safe mode in future versions, making the action intuitive.