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Tipsheet

What Happened to One Woman in the 'Metaverse' Proves Humanity Isn't Ready For It...At All

AP Photo/Deepti Hajela

There are many reasons to avoid virtual reality. First, I think it’s a waste of time. Second, there are the injuries. You’ve probably seen the many, many videos of people running into walls, breaking their flatscreens, and outright eating it on the floor when playing this stuff. It’s entertaining for us to watch, sure—but now we have a new problem: gang rape. It’s not real gang rape, but virtual reality, like the real world, allegedly has sexual predators who attacked a woman within a minute of logging into the Meta's Horizon Worlds. I’ll let you do the rest of the background research regarding this…world but three or four male avatars attacked this woman which prompted a personal boundary to be established so other users can be protected from this virtual…gang rape activity (via NY Post):

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is adding a feature to combat virtual-reality harassment days after a woman said she was “virtually gang raped” in the company’s metaverse. 

The feature, called “personal boundary,” will prevent other users’ virtual avatars from “invading your avatar’s personal space,” the company formerly known as Facebook said in blog post on Friday.

The feature will be rolled out within Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues virtual reality worlds starting on Friday. 

“If someone tries to enter your Personal Boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary,” Meta said. “We believe Personal Boundary is a powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably.” 

The feature will kick in if other users come within about four feet of each other, the company said.

The news comes after a British mom said she was “virtually gang raped” while beta testing Meta’s Horizon Worlds late last year. 

“Within 60 seconds of joining — I was verbally and sexually harassed — 3-4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos — as I tried to get away they yelled — ‘don’t pretend you didn’t love it’ and ‘go rub yourself off to the photo,’” Nina Jane Patel, 43, wrote in a blog post. 

In a statement to The Post on Tuesday, Patel called on Meta to introduce stronger anti-harassment features.

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In December of 2021, a woman alleged that she was groped in the metaverse:

Meta (the umbrella company formerly known as Facebook) opened up access to its virtual-reality social media platform, Horizon Worlds. Early descriptions of the platform make it seem fun and wholesome, drawing comparisons to Minecraft. In Horizon Worlds, up to 20 avatars can get together at a time to explore, hang out, and build within the virtual space.

But not everything has been warm and fuzzy. According to Meta, on November 26, a beta tester reported something deeply troubling: she had been groped by a stranger on Horizon Worlds. On December 1, Meta revealed that she’d posted her experience in the Horizon Worlds beta testing group on Facebook.

Meta’s internal review of the incident found that the beta tester should have used a tool called “Safe Zone” that’s part of a suite of safety features built into Horizon Worlds. Safe Zone is a protective bubble users can activate when feeling threatened. Within it, no one can touch them, talk to them, or interact in any way until they signal that they would like the Safe Zone lifted.

Vivek Sharma, the vice president of Horizon, called the groping incident “absolutely unfortunate,” telling The Verge…

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Anyone else have a feeling that this is going to go way off the rails. 

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