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Facebook's Metaverse Investigation Uncovers 'Online Wild West' Full Of Pedophiles & Racists!

metaverse shown in investigation

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

The Metaverse really is its own world — and that apparently comes with its own set of new dangers!

Mark Zuckerberg’s virtual community has been branded an “online Wild West” by child safety campaigners after a Channel 4 journalist went undercover in the Metaverse, where they reportedly uncovered evidence of sexual abuse and racism.

For those who haven’t bought their VR headsets yet, the Metaverse is a virtual world where users can play games, work, and socialize with other users across the globe. The online spaces can be anything from cyber cities to cafes to even picnics at the foot of a virtual tornado.

But it sounds like this is becoming a mo’ worlds, mo’ problems kind of situation, as the Metaverse is now being accused of a severe lack of safeguarding and moderation! (Facebook putting safety last? Shocking…)

Related: Orsolya Gaal’s Accused Killer Suspected Of Curating YouTube Channel With Playlists Of Violent Crime Content

Earlier this year, mother Nina Jane Patel claimed she was sexually assaulted less than a minute after entering the virtual world. WHY IS THAT EVEN AN OPTION?! Meanwhile, the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that users, including minors, “are exposed to abusive behavior every seven minutes.”

Now, a Channel 4 investigation is sounding the alarm on just how pervasive the problem is. As part of the probe, Yinka Bokinni posed as both a 22-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl in VRChat and Rec Room — the two most popular apps featured on the Meta-owned VR headset, Oculus Quest.

Within minutes of using both apps, she claims she became surrounded by other users making sexually explicit comments. The journalist also witnessed the simulation of sexual acts while simply walking around, including between users who seemed to be minors. She recalled:

“There was a lot of sexual harassment going on. It’s really intimidating. It’s shocking the level of racist, sexist and homophobic slurs flying around. Just because you put a headset on, all of a sudden you’re not responsible for what you say. It isn’t okay to do it in a classroom, in a workplace, on public transport, on the road, so why is it okay to do it in the Metaverse?”

The probe also found “threats of violence and content mocking the 9/11 terror attacks,” along with avatars making disgusting racial slurs, with one saying:

“You’re black. Imagine being black — get back to the fields, cotton-picker.”


Bokinni also came across sexually threatening behavior from what appeared to be teenagers, while other users seemingly discussed sexual acts with children. One user allegedly said:

“I just like little girls from the age of nine to 12, that’s just my thing.”

Um… WTF!? How is this not grounds for being permanently banned from the app?

Andy Burrows, the head of child safety online policy at NSPCC, told Channel 4:

“Children are going into those spaces expecting that they will be safe. And what you’re seeing is spaces that are being designed to appeal to children, to draw children in, but then no even cursory attempt at safeguarding, or at moderating. You have an online Wild West.”

Last week, television presenter and online safety campaigner Carol Vorderman called for new legislation to be brought in to protect users.

For its part, Meta deflected most of the blame onto the apps themselves and the companies that use them. A rep said:

“We don’t own these apps, and they can be used on phones, laptops and other VR devices, not just Quest. We encourage other companies to opt into the identity system we’ve created, because our system allows people to block or mute abusive users more effectively across all virtual worlds. We cannot take action against customers on devices we don’t own. We offer tools that allow people to block other users from their experiences and report issues across the entire Quest platform so they have more control over their VR experiences.”

“We’re just the gods of this virtual world, we don’t actually have any power”?? Huh.

The company also said they “prohibit anyone under 13 from creating Quest accounts and design some experiences only for people 18 and over,” adding:

“We have a suite of VR parental supervision tools to help parents and carers who choose to allow teens 13 and over to use the headset to monitor their use, limit the time they spend using it and ensure they take breaks.”

VRChat echoed a similar sentiment, saying that underage users “are not permitted to register an account,” adding:

“If they lie about their age and are detected on our platform, they are immediately banned. User safety is a top priority for VRChat, and we’ve provided users with a number of tools to help them protect themselves.”

Rec Room said users are able to limit the voices they hear on the app to only “friends, favorite friends, their current party or none.”

We really hope this online chaos gets sorted out.

[Image via WSJ/YouTube]

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Apr 26, 2022 12:16pm PDT