Researcher 'raped' in Horizon Worlds metaverse

Occurred: May 2022

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A young woman was sexually assaulted and harassed virtually within an hour of entering Meta's Horizon Worlds metaverse, raising questions about the safety of the Meta platform and other metaverses.

The 21-year-old researcher for SumOfUs was raped within one hour of using Horison Worlds, according (pdf) to a report by the non-profit. The woman was repeatedly told 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'.

When a user is touched by another in the metaverse, the hand controllers vibrate, 'creating a very disorienting and even disturbing physical experience during a virtual assault,' the researcher said of the non-consensual act. 

According to Meta, the researcher had turned off the metaverse's Personal Boundary feature that is turned on by default and prevents non-friends from coming within 4 feet of one's avatar.


Operator: SumOfUs
Developer: Meta
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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