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Female researcher’s avatar sexually assaulted on a metaverse platform: Report

Monday, May 30, 2022 • Tamil Comments
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A female researcher, who entered Meta’s virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds to study users’ behaviour on the metaverse, was sexually assaulted in the virtual space, as per a statement by Corporate accountability group SumOfUs.

The group explained the need for Meta to have better plans to mitigate such practices in the metaverse. SumOfUs’ campaigns director Vicky Wyatt told the BBC Tech Tent podcast, “It still counts, it still has a real impact on users.”

The footage of the incident reportedly showed two male avatars in the same room as the woman sharing a virtual bottle of drink and making obscene comments. Horizon Worlds, which allows its users to have an avatar with a cartoonish appearance, is currently available to users in the US and Canada.

Earlier this year, another user named Nina Jane Patel, had apparently felt confined and under threat as the male avatars closed in and touched her against her well and also photographed the incident. “I entered the shared space and almost immediately three or four male avatars came very close to me, so there was a sense of entrapment,” Nina Patel had said.

“Their voices started verbally and sexually harassing me, with sexual innuendos. They touched and they groped my avatar without my consent. And while they were doing that, another avatar was taking selfie photos,” she added.

Kristina Milian, a Meta representative, told MIT Technology Review that users should have “a positive experience with safety tools that are easy to find — and it's never a user’s fault if they don’t use all the features we offer.” She added, “We will continue to improve our UI and to better understand how people use our tools so that users are able to report things easily and reliably. Our goal is to make Horizon Worlds safe, and we are committed to doing that work.”

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