Published:December 19, 2021
-The Post Millennial
An anonymous female beta tester for “Horizon Worlds” the VR universe under development by the Meta company, complained that someone virtually “groped” her while she was inside the system.
Meta, the company formerly known as the Facebook group, stated that the incident in question occurred and was immediately reported by the virtual victim on Nov. 26 2021.
“Sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet, but being in VR adds another layer that makes the event more intense,” commented the woman to the media.
According to the New York Post, even on the “regular internet”, incidents of threats and harassment are up sharply. In 2014, 10 percent of internet users had reported at least one incident of such. In 2020, the number had jumped up all the way to 25 percent.
“Not only was I groped last night, but there were other people there who supported this behavior, which made me feel isolated in the Plaza,” the anonymous woman continued.
In its current beta state, Horizon Worlds supports up to 20 people per session. Supposedly, it also includes a “Safe Zone” feature, were users can block other users. After this latest report, they are going to work on making the feature more “trivially easy and findable.”
Experts claim that the incident should be treated as if it happened in real life, as the psychological trauma is the same as it would have been in that case:
“At the end of the day, the nature of virtual-reality spaces is such that it is designed to trick the user into thinking they are physically in a certain space, that their every bodily action is occurring in a 3-D environment,” Katherine Cross, a “techie TransLatina” who is currently engaged in researching her doctoral dissertation on “online harassment, shame, and anti-social behaviour” at the University of Washington’s iSchool, commented.
I was quoted in this excellent article about sexual harassment in VR.
Bottom line: tech companies can't have it both ways and sell VR's verisimilitude while *denying* it when something goes wrong.https://t.co/oh44a0aUa0
— Katherine Cross (@Quinnae_Moon) December 16, 2021