Advocacy Groups Call On Meta To Ban Minors For ‘Dangerous’ Metaverse
A letter was signed by dozens of advocacy groups and children’s safety experts asking Meta Platforms Inc. to halt all plans to allow minors into its new virtual reality world.
Airplay, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and Common Sense Media, among others, were some of the groups that signed the letter. It was sent to Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, arguing that minors will face harassment and privacy violations on the virtual reality app, according to Bloomberg.
“Meta must wait for more peer-reviewed research on the potential risks of the metaverse to be certain that children and teens would be safe,” wrote the groups.
Recall we were the first to point out “Dark Side Of Metaverse Exposed: Why Your Kids Need To Stay Away From VRChat” at the start of 2022. We showed screenshots from one YouTuber who revealed the massive problem in the metaverse: child exploitation and sexualization.
One month after our report, BBC News published a similar story. They found examples of child grooming, sexual material, racism, and rape threats.
Only weeks after our initial report, Oculus released a statement indicating the addition of a “personal boundary” (think of a personal bubble) that will protect users from being virtually assaulted by others.
Back to the latter, which points to a report last month from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found users under 18 are already facing harassment from adults on the app. Go figure… This is something we laid out over a year ago.
Researchers with the center witnessed 19 episodes of abuse directed at minors by adults, including sexual harassment, during 100 visits to the most popular worlds within Horizon Universe. –Bloomberg
Meta had announced plans to make Horizon Worlds available to users between the ages of 13 and 17 in February. While the platform was opened to users 18 years and above in 2021, the company has faced difficulties retaining users.
A spokesperson for Meta said:
“Before we make Horizon Worlds available to teens, we will have additional protections and tools in place to help provide age-appropriate experiences for them.
“Quest headsets are for people 13+ and we encourage parents and caretakers to use our parental supervision tools, including managing access to apps, to help ensure safe experiences.”
The minimum age for the metaverse app is now 18. The letter continued, “Should Meta throw open the doors of these worlds to minors rather than pause to protect them, you would, yet again, demonstrate your company to be untrustworthy when it comes to safeguarding young people’s best interests.”
Fri, 04/14/2023 – 22:00