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Metaverse is just a new venue for the age-old problem of sexual harassment

By Arwa Mahdawi

18 Dec 2021 · 3 min read

Last week, Meta (the holding company known as Facebook until October, when Mark Zuckerberg dramatically rebranded it in an attempt to distract people from the company’s PR problems), opened up a virtual reality (VR) platform called Horizon Worlds to anyone over 18 in the US and Canada. Horizon Worlds is Meta’s first big step towards building a new version of the internet called the metaverse, where the physical and digital worlds come together. Your avatar floats around with up to 20 people and you can play games, hang out, and build custom digital environments. You can also grope people. Last month a beta tester told Meta that she had been randomly groped by a stranger on Horizon Worlds; she later posted her experience in the Horizon Worlds beta testing group on Facebook.

“Sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet, but being in VR adds another layer that makes the event more intense,” she wrote. “Not only was I groped last night, but there were other people there who supported this behaviour.…”

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