Researcher’s Avatar Sexually Assaulted – Turns Out the Metaverse is As Toxic

Image sourced from South China Morning Post.

A non-profit organisation group, SumOfUS, published a report on 24 May 2022 that revealed that a researcher’s avatar was sexually assaulted in Horizon World, a Meta-owned metaverse platform.

The report titled “Metaverse: another cesspool of toxic content” details the researcher’s uncomfortable encounter in Meta’s Horizon World.

Horizon World is a virtual reality (VR), an online video game with an integrated game creation system developed and published by Meta Platforms for Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest 2 available to US and Canada people from 18 and older. It was launched in December 2021 after an invite-only beta phase.

According to the report, four other users were harassed and sexually assaulted on the Horizon World platform and other Meta’s VR platforms. SumOfUs researchers also revealed that there are also other forms of violence in the metaverse including racism, homophobia, and gun violence.

The report has proven that violence, just like on the internet and the physical world can exist in the metaverse, too.

“In the physical world, as well as the internet, people shout and swear and do all kinds of unpleasant things that aren’t prohibited by law, and they harass and attack people in ways that are,” Nick Clegg, president for global affairs at Meta Platforms said, according to Business Insider.

“The metaverse will be no different. People who want to misuse technologies will always find ways to do it,” Clegg added.

The report by SumOfUs group shows a video of what happened. In the 28-second video, a male user is seen getting closer to the female researcher. Another male user is in the room watching. The male user can be heard saying, “It’s a free show,” while passing a bottle of what seems to be some kind of alcoholic beverage.

The researcher said that even though the incident happened in virtual reality she felt somewhat “disoriented”.

“One part of my brain was like wtf is happening, the other part was like this isn’t a real body, and another part was like, this is important research,” she said in the report.

Mark Zuckerberg recently told Meta shareholders that the metaverse will bleed a lot of money in the next three to five years. He said that he spent $10-billion on the idea of a virtual world the last year alone.


By Zintle Nkohla 

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