A woman was “sexually assaulted” in Meta’s metaverse experience


If there is a trend growing in the tech industry is the metaverse. We’ve been seeing the concept becoming popular in recent months, especially after Meta, formerly known as Facebook Inc, announced its focus on creating a Metaverse experience. In fact, the company promised and is doing everything in its reach to popularize the segment. The “Horizon Worlds” game is one of Meta’s biggest efforts to create a true virtual-world experience. However, the first concerns with the metaverse are starting to emerge.

A virtual “sexual assault” is possible

The victim is a 21-year-old woman who created a female avatar in Meta’s metaverse game “Horizon World”. She wanted to complete related research by experiencing the “metaverse”. In less than an hour, she was “sexually assaulted” by a male avatar, while another bystander was booing next to her.

Interestingly, everything seems to be part of an experiment conducted by SumOfUs. It’s a nonprofit working to curb the growing power of corporations. The nonprofit sent the girl into the virtual world earlier this month. About an hour after using the platform, her avatar was “sexually assaulted” in a “disorienting and confusing experience”.


In an interview, a Meta spokesperson emphasized that the researchers did not turn on the personal borders feature. It’s a default security tool that prevents non-friends from greeting within four feet of your avatar.

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“In Horizon World, personal boundaries for non-friends default to nearly 4 feet to make it easier to avoid unnecessary interactions,” the spokesperson said. “We do not recommend turning off safety features for people you don’t know.”

We don’t know exactly what composes a “virtual sexual assault” or at least not in the current metaverse. However, it certainly lights on a red light in our minds. If the interactions become richer in the future, we can see a lot of these things happening. After all, some users won’t see moral barriers in the “virtual” world. Thankfully, the woman didn’t experience any physical damage.

Mark Zuckerberg wants social interaction to enter the metaverse in the future

To those unaware, at the current state, Metaverse stands as a set of virtual spaces where you can play, work, and communicate with other people outside of the same physical space. Horizon Wolrd is Meta’s “metaverse” space. It’s available since the last December. It allows users to party with others, play games, and build their own virtual worlds. It’s an early step in Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s ambition to transform the platform into a “metaverse”. The company has recently opened a store in the metaverse, and more interactions will come. Apparently, the 6G connectivity will boost the metaverse in the next few years.

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