Home Tech Daily Mail witnesses sexual assault in Mark Zuckerberg’s Horizon Worlds – as gang rapes, child grooming and sexual harassment flood the metaverse

Daily Mail witnesses sexual assault in Mark Zuckerberg’s Horizon Worlds – as gang rapes, child grooming and sexual harassment flood the metaverse

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DailyMail.com has witnessed such acts first-hand after spending time in Meta's Horizon Worlds and discovered that it is becoming a haven for people to carry out sexual assaults under the guise of their (stock) avatar.

Research into the metaverse has revealed that digital worlds are filled with gang rape, child grooming, and graphic content.

DailyMail.com has witnessed such acts first-hand after spending time in Meta’s Horizon Worlds and discovered that it is becoming a haven for people to carry out sexual assaults under the guise of their avatar.

We were welcomed into the digital world by a male avatar who approached a woman in a bustling city square, who then began making crude sexual noises and hitting her with an umbrella.

The female avatar tried to escape, but the lewd grunts grew louder, even as she screamed, ‘Stop it!’

These attacks are carried out by ordinary users, who “hide behind” the anonymity of their avatars, and cases are increasing, said Bernard Marr, technology expert and author of The Future Internet, speaking to the Daily Mail. com.

DailyMail.com has witnessed such acts first-hand after spending time in Meta’s Horizon Worlds and discovered that it is becoming a haven for people to carry out sexual assaults under the guise of their (stock) avatar.

Meta's Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

Meta’s Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

Marr said the lack of laws to punish people for harassment and attacks leads people in the metaverse to commit acts they “wouldn’t dare in real life.”

“The alarming increase in virtual attacks in the metaverse can be attributed to the absence of specific laws regulating these spaces,” he told DailyMail.com.

«Unlike the tangible world, the metaverse currently operates in a legal gray area, where traditional laws regarding physical interaction do not necessarily apply or are difficult to enforce.

“The lack of specific laws for the metaverse encourages users to commit acts they would not dare in real life, exploiting the anonymity and immersive nature of the space.”

During DailyMail.com’s investigation, we saw avatars running and jumping as the woman fell victim to her male attacker; no avatar recognized the situation.

The incident did not occur in one of Horizon’s spaces dedicated to sex and drugs, but in a beginner’s world for people new to the game.

Horizon Worlds has the style of a sunlit fantasy city, but the energy is like an Internet chat room: chaotic and impersonal.

Meta's Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

Meta’s Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

‘Condo’ rooms on Roblox see players having sex in videos sometimes shared on porn sites (Roblox/Reddit)

Attacks and harassment are widespread, and the Center for Digital Hate recently found that adults harassing minors are “not uncommon” in Mark Zuckerberg’s Horizon Worlds.

The report noted that adult avatars ejaculated on girls in the metaverse and threatened to commit sexual acts on users under 15 years of age.

Researchers identified 100 potential violations of Meta’s policies for virtual reality in 11 hours and 30 minutes of recordings of user behavior in the Horizon Worlds app.

Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center to Counter Digital Hate, said: “When Facebook launched the Metaverse for Oculus just in time for holiday shopping, its CEO promised that privacy and security are at the heart of Virtual Reality.

“But our researchers discovered that, contrary to its promises, the Metaverse is a haven for hate, pornography, and child manipulation.”

Last month, police investigated the case of a young British woman who was attacked by a gang of youths in virtual reality.

On other ‘metaverse’ platforms such as Roblox, which are used by millions of children, violations have also been reported.

In June 2018, Amber Petersen’s seven-year-old daughter was “violently gang-raped” by two avatars who grabbed her and forced the avatar to engage in simulated sexual acts.

SumOfUs, a nonprofit organization, produced a report on hate speech and sexual assault issues at Horizon Worlds in May 2022.

Meta's Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

Meta’s Horizon Worlds Has Harassment Issues, According to the Center for Digital Hate

The organization’s 21-year-old researcher was attacked within an hour of using the platform.

The anonymous researcher said: ‘It happened so quickly that I became disassociated. One part of my brain was saying, “What’s going on,” the other part was saying this isn’t a real body, and the other part was saying, “This is important research.”

Spaces like Horizon Worlds also have areas dedicated to sex and drugs, and minors are accessing them, the Center for Digital Hate said.

On Roblox, accessed adults create ‘condo’ rooms for sex games, with videos of avatars having sex shared on porn sites.

Roblox itself bans ‘condo’ games and combats them when they appear.

A Meta spokesperson noted that the researcher did not have the personal limits feature activated, a security tool that is activated by default and prevents non-friends from coming within four feet of your avatar.

Meta notes that there are numerous privacy tools built into the Horizon Worlds platform, including options to disable other players’ voices.

A Meta spokesperson said: “The type of behavior described has no place on our platform, so for all Meta Horizon Worlds users we have an automatic protection called a personal limit, which keeps people you don’t know a few meters away from you. distance”. you.

“We want everyone who uses our services to have a good experience and easily find the tools that can help prevent situations like these, so we can investigate and take action.”

What it’s like to be attacked in the metaverse

Psychotherapist and startup co-founder Nina Patel

Psychotherapist and startup co-founder Nina Patel

Four male avatars accused a metaverse expert and ‘practically gang-raped’ her avatar in Meta’s Horizon Worlds, and she says the trauma of such attacks can be ‘similar’ to assaults in the real world.

Speaking to DailyMail.com, psychotherapist and startup co-founder Nina Patel said her attackers may have felt “uninhibited” by being in a virtual world.

She said: ‘My experience in the virtual reality environment was harrowing. Within just 60 seconds of joining, I found myself subjected to verbal and sexual harassment from several male avatars.

‘They harassed me relentlessly and then proceeded to (what can only be described) as the sexual assault of my avatar. “His behavior was offensive and disturbing.”

Attackers in the metaverse feel a “disconnect” between their actions and the consequences, Marr says, but the psychological impact on victims can be “profound.”

“The perpetrators of these virtual attacks are often regular users of the metaverse, hiding behind the anonymity and freedom that the digital space provides,” Marr said.

This anonymity can lead to a disconnect between actions and consequences, allowing people to engage in behavior that is socially unacceptable or criminal in the real world.

“The psychological impact on victims is profound, highlighting the need for accountability in these virtual realms.”

Marr also noted that lawmakers need to address the issue, as do metaverse platforms.

‘Addressing these issues in the metaverse is of utmost importance. “As technology advances, virtual experiences will become more immersive and indistinguishable from reality,” he continued.

‘The psychological effects of virtual assaults, as seen in recent incidents, are real and harmful.

‘New laws must recognize that virtual actions can cause real psychological harm. This challenges policymakers to redefine assault in the context of increasingly tangible virtual experiences.

‘Lawmakers face the complex task of drafting legislation that addresses physical assaults in a non-physical space.

‘This requires a paradigm shift in legal thinking, recognizing that psychological harm in the virtual world can have as much impact as physical harm in the real world.

‘Laws must evolve to consider the unique nature of virtual interactions, especially as technologies like haptic suits make these experiences more physically tangible.

“International cooperation and a multidisciplinary approach are crucial to developing these new legal frameworks.”

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