A researcher joined the Metaverse with the intention of analyzing the actions taken by users of the social networking platform Horizon World provided by Meta. She claims that within an hour of putting on her Oculus virtual-reality headset, her avatar was raped while she was in the virtual realm.
“Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content,” a new report published by the researcher Tuesday, details the researcher’s encounter in Meta’s Horizon World.
According to the narrative that was provided by SumOfUs, individuals on Horizon World asked the researcher to attend a secret party earlier this month. The users in the same area approached her and requested that she turn off a setting that stopped others from coming closer than four feet to her within the Metaverse.
The post included a link to a video that, according to the organization, demonstrates what occurred to the researcher’s avatar as seen from her point of view.
In the footage, one guy avatar is seen approaching her from extremely close range as another male avatar observes the interaction from a near location. After that, a bottle of something that may be booze is handed back and forth between the two avatars throughout the 28-second clip.
In the video, two different male voices can be heard making obscene remarks. The researcher may be seen in a portion of the video that SumOfUs chose not to publish but does explain below: “[She] was led into a private room at a party where she was raped by a user who kept telling her to turn around so he could do it from behind while users outside the window could see — all while another user in the room watched and passed around a vodka bottle,” as said in the report.
In spite of the fact that it took place in virtual reality, the experience caused the researcher to feel “disoriented,” as she described it in the study. The researcher noticed that her controller vibrated whenever the male avatars touched her, causing her to have a real-world reaction to the virtual experience she was having online.
“One part of my brain was like WTF is happening, the other part was like this isn’t a real body, and another part was like, this is important research,” she says in the report.
Researchers working with SumOfUs said that they were exposed to homophobic and racist remarks while in Horizon World. Furthermore, they claimed to have observed gun violence on the platform.
In December, Meta released Horizon Worlds to users aged 18 and above in the United States and Canada. According to The Verge, there were at least 300,000 users on the site as of the beginning of February.
According to the research published by SumOfUs, four more users have lately reported that their avatars have been the victims of sexual assault or harassment on Horizon World and other Meta VR platforms.
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