Meta, Facebook’s new alter ego is barely on it’s feet. Unsurprisingly, complaints have rolled in already. A public virtual space where humans can interact with each other, what could go wrong? Well, of course a lot could go wrong. Women in the virtual world who were there as beta testers voiced their issues. Raising concerns about how they’re treated by their peers.
Earlier this month, a beta tester posted in the official Horizon group on Facebook. She spoke about her experience in the Metaverse earlier this month. She states “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.” Sexual assult is horrific in any situation and being made to feel unsafe in a virtual space adds a whole new layer.
Think back to beginning of bullied children receiving harassement from school at home via social media. The outcry from the community due to online harassment was immense. Harassment stayed in the playground, it also followed you home. This harassment is evolving with technology.
Has Meta thought of a way to keep their users safe?
With the ability to interact with avatars and create public and private spaces within these metaverses creates responsibility. Meta are moving responsibility from them to the user. Meta has created a ‘safe space’ where other avatars cannot interact with you. Stating that the situation would not have happened if the safe space was used. Whilst, yes if the attacker was instantly blocked then that would have stopped the initial harassment, on the other hand, it does nothing for prevention or a change in how humans generally communicate on the internet.
In light of recent events, ‘safe space’ needs to be more obvious to the user. Education regarding the use and consequence is a must. One can block one singular, or even multiple users due to harassment, but that is not the crux of stopping harassment. It is shifting responsibility from company to victim.
Meta must do more for their users and users must do more for their fellow gamers.
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