Near the end of 2021, an Oculus Quest player of the VR game Population One

… was waiting in the game's lobby when her avatar was approached by another that looked like a guy … who then simulated groping and spilling his virtual load all over her. When she asked the male avatar to stop, the response basically was, ‘Welcome to the metaverse, where I get to do whatever the f**k I want.’

An hour later, she was groped again by a different user.

It shouldn’t really surprise anyone that this is already happening. Heck, it’s been happening — these types of VR games and environments are just really taking off now, so people are starting to ring those alarm bells a little bit harder. And as they should, because these digital environments are fully immersive, and the sensory abilities and haptic vests make the experience way more intense than just some internet douche telling you in your DMs what they want to do to your feet or whatever. You will actually be able to feel them do it, which is a level of realism that quickly evolves into the horror kind when harassers and abusers are calling the shots. 

Of course, Zuckerberg and his Meta minions will simply continue to respond with company lines like “We’re spending millions in research to ensure safety thingies” and, more directly from their new chief technology officer, “Moderating at any meaningful scale is practically impossible.” But when your technology causes women to join virtual support groups because the harassment they experience is constant, you should probably take a good hard look at your own accountability.

Fat chance of that happening, however, because when a beta tester reported a groping incident on Meta’s VR social media platform, Horizon Worlds

… the incident review came back saying the tester didn’t use the tool called the “Safe Zone.” The Safe Zone is a protective bubble that a user can activate, which will prevent anyone from talking or interacting with that user.

On a social media platform. 

Where we are all supposed to anticipate whether a person is about to harass or assault us at any given moment, apparently.

Top Image: Mikhail Nilov/Pexels

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