Meta Horizon Worlds beta tester groped by stranger

Occurred: December 2021

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A beta tester of Meta's new social virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds has revealed that her avatar was groped by a stranger, raising questions about the safety of metaverses and of Mark Zuckerberg's much-hyped new business direction.

The tester, who later revealed herself as Nina Jane Patel, detailed her experience in a lengthy blog post, describing her treatment as 'horrible' and akin to 'virtual gang rape'.

According to the Technology Review, Meta’s internal review of the incident found that the beta tester had not used the platform's 'Safe Zone' tool which enables users to lock themselves in a secure bubble away from other users until they signal they would like to exit it. 

Shortly afterwards, Meta announced Personal Boundary, a default setting in the Horizon Worlds creation platform and the Horizon Venues live event service that prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions.

Operator: Nina Jane Patel
Developer: Meta/Quest
Country: USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Provide virtual social experience
Technology: Virtual reality; Safety management system
Issue: Safety
Transparency: Governance


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Type: Incident
Published: December 2021
Last updated: January 2024