Today, we are covering the reports of a Metaverse rape victim, who was conducting research for a non-profit organization at the time of the incident.
A woman has alleged that she was sexually assaulted in Horizon’s World, a virtual reality environment created by Meta. According to the researcher who was looking into the platform for SumOfUs, a non-profit organization that is seeking to limit the power of big businesses, while other users ‘watched and passed around a vodka bottle’, she experienced sexual assault by a stranger. A report by the organization states that:
“About an hour into using the platform, a SumOfUs researcher was led into a private room at a party where she was raped by a user who kept telling her to turn around so he could do it from behind while users outside the window could see – all while another user in the room watched and passed around a vodka bottle”,
“This sexual act was non-consensual, and the researcher described the experience as ‘disorienting’ and confusing.”
According to the study, there have been a number of other incidents; one anonymous beta tester alleged that her “avatar had been groped by a stranger” in the Worlds beta test, while other accounts have documented simulated groping and ejaculating, as well as verbal and sexual abuse.
“The SumOfUs researcher noted how quickly she encountered sexual assault on the platform after another user encouraged her to disable the personal boundaries setting. She noted that when another user touches you, the hand controllers vibrate, creating a very disorienting and even disturbing physical experience during a virtual assault,”
“Regarding the experience of being sexually assaulted in VR, the researcher said: ‘It happened so fast I kind of disassociated. One part of my brain was like wtf is happening, the other part was like this isn’t a real body, and another part was like, this is important research.’”
She is not the first Metaverse rape victim
In December of last year, Nina Jane Patel, a psychologist who studies the metaverse, published a Medium post about the “surreal nightmare” of being “gang raped” in Horizon Venues.
“Within 60 seconds of joining — I was verbally and sexually harassed — 3–4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos — as I tried to get away they yelled — “don’t pretend you didn’t love it” and “go rub yourself off to the photo”.
A horrible experience that happened so fast and before I could even think about putting the safety barrier in place. I froze.
It was surreal. It was a nightmare.”
Meta then introduced a ‘personal boundary’ mode into its virtual reality platforms, with a ‘nearly four-foot distance’ between one user and the next. While these incidents were taking place, Meta’s personal barrier was off. Rewan Al-Hadad, SumOfUs campaign director said in a statement that:
“As it stands now, the metaverse is not safe, and based on Meta’s stance on how it will moderate the platform, it will continue to spiral into a dark abyss. Our researcher went from donning an oculus headset for the first time, to being virtually raped in less than an hour. And this isn’t a one-off account”,
Meta said in a statement that:
“In Horizon Worlds, Personal Boundary is default on at almost four foot for non-friends to make it easier to avoid unwanted interactions. We don’t recommend turning off the safety feature with people you do not know. We want everyone using our products to have a good experience and easily find the tools that can help in situations like these, so we can investigate and take action.”
We hope that you found this article on Researcher became a Metaverse rape victim informative. If you did, you might also like to check out our other articles, such as Fender Stratoverse brings music into the Metaverse, or Starbucks shoots for Metaverse for the next-gen loyalty program.