Woman complains she was virtually groped on Meta’s Horizon Worlds

Several weeks after the release of Meta’s Horizon Worlds, reports surfaced of a female beta tester alleging that she was groped on the virtual reality (VR) platform. The beta tester allegedly told Meta that she was groped by a stranger on Horizon Worlds, and that other people agreed with her. She also shared her experience on Facebook in the Horizon Worlds beta testing group.

“Sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet, but being in VR adds another layer that makes the event more intense,” The Verge quoted the woman as saying. “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 virtual environment’s central gathering space),”

Facebook announced the launch of Horizon Worlds, its virtual reality avatar world, earlier this month for users in the United States and Canada aged 18 and up. Horizon Worlds, according to Facebook, is the first step toward the metaverse. Users can socialise and play games with up to 20 other legless avatars in Horizon World.

Following the woman’s post, Meta reportedly launched an internal investigation into the matter, which was completed on November 26th, according to reports. The woman published the post on December 1, and Horizon Worlds was made available to the public on December 9. The incident was described as “absolutely unfortunate” by Vivek Sharma, Meta’s VP of Horizon, who told The Verge that it was good feedback because he wanted to make the Safe Zone blocking tool “trivially easy and findable.” According to Kristina Milian, a Meta spokesperson, the company will continue to improve its user interface in order to understand how its tools are used and to allow users to report issues easily and reliably.

According to reports, Horizon Worlds is nowhere near a fully realised metaverse, where online experiences such as chatting with a friend would eventually feel face-to-face thanks to VR headsets. As of now, Horizontal Worlds app users will need to have the necessary equipment. Facebook rebranded itself as Meta in late October, with the goal of creating the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that it believes will be the successor to mobile internet. The name change came shortly after lawmakers and regulators criticized the company for its market power, algorithmic decisions, and policing of abuses on its services.