Facebook: First charge of “virtual” sexual assault in the metaverse

Officially launched a few days ago, “Horizon Worlds”, the metaverse of Facebook (Meta), is already at the heart of a controversy. A young woman, who participated in a beta-test session before the official launch of the platform in November, recounts having suffered a “sexual assault” within this virtual reality universe.

In a post on the official Horizon Worlds Facebook page, the user describes the facts, revealing that her avatar has been touched by another avatar, reports The Verge. “Sexual harassment is already something serious online, but being in virtual reality adds intensity to this type of event. I was not only fiddled with last night, there were also other people who supported this behavior, and made me feel isolated in this space ”, detailed the young woman.

An “absolutely unfortunate” act, says the platform

For Vivek Sharma, vice president of “Horizon Worlds”, the incident is “absolutely unfortunate”. “It’s still a good comeback for us. We now need to make the blocking functionality easier to use, ”explained the vice-president, who sees it as an opportunity to act more against situations of harassment and sexual assault in the metaverse.

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Horizon Worlds indeed offers a “ safe zone Which allows you to create a completely private space where no one can interact with you. According to the platform, the user would not have used this blocking feature which makes it possible to no longer have any interaction with another user. But the platform does not hold her responsible for what happened. “We want all Horizon Worlds members to have a positive experience with easy-to-find security tools – and it’s never the internet users’ fault if they don’t use all of the features we offer,” Kristina Milian, a spokesperson for Meta, told MIT Technology Review.

This is not the first time that users have committed this kind of act in virtual worlds. Sexual harassment, even if it takes place in a virtual environment, remains reprehensible. Sending unsolicited photos of a sexual nature is considered sexual harassment according to article 222-16 of the Penal Code.