VRChat online virtual-reality universe
Occurred: February 2022
VRChat is an online virtual-reality universe that enables users to interact with others using avatars and worlds they can create.
Founded in 2015, VRChat is thought to be the most popular social virtual reality platform, and is the most reviewed social app in Facebook’s VR Metaverse.
Child grooming, rape, and racism
In February 2022, a BBC report detailed a reseacher's experience posing as a 13-year-old girl who witnessed child grooming, racist insults, avatars simulating having sex, and threats of rape in VRChat.
According to Andy Burrows, head of online child safety policy at the UK's NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), VRChat 'is a product that is dangerous by design, because of oversight and neglect.'
Private, invitation-only sex clubs
Despite a ban on explicit content on VRChat, Buzzfeed reported in February 2023 that people are easily skirting the rules by attending private, invitation-only orgies in virtual sex clubs and age-restricted Discord servers.
According to Buzzfeed, an estimated 'several thousand' VRChat users engage in erotic role play (ERP), or VR sex, with participants spending hundreds of dollars on Bluetooth-enabled sex toys and tools that help 'make fornication-via-avatar an immersive and more physically pleasurable experience.'
Operator: VRChat; Meta/Quest; Microsoft
Country: UK; USA; Global
Purpose: Manage system safety
Technology: Safety management system; Virtual reality
Issue: Safety; Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Black box
Center for Countering Digital Hate (2021). Metaverse
Investigations, assessments, audits
News, commentary, analysis
Published: February 2022
Last updated: February 2023