The metaverse has given much to talk about in recent months, but some applications it offers are of “inherently dangerous design”, reported the British Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
Minors can access sexual content in a metaverse app, said a BBC reporter, who made a terrifying discovery when she posed as a 13-year-old girl. The BBC correspondent commented that she witnessed sexual harassment, exposure to sexual material and a threat of rape in this virtual reality world.
The NSPCC stated that they were “shocked and outraged” at what the reporter reported. Association director Angry Burrows added that this reporter’s investigation was a “toxic combination of risks.”
Minors can access sexual content in a metaverse app
The reporter conducted an investigation using an app that was classified for use by those over 13 years of age. In his tour of virtual reality spaces, he found avatars simulating having sex. They showed him sex toys, condoms, and several adult men approached him with not exactly good intentions.
The BBC correspondent used a virtual reality headset called “Meta Quest”, which allows users to live a more real experience. Through the app, VRChat, a virtual platform that allows users to have 3D avatars, the reporter began her journey through the app.
The VRChat app doesn’t ask for any age verification, it just asks the user to have a Facebook account in order to log in. While inside, the reporter noticed that there are very innocent and common places, like a McDonald’s restaurant, but she also noticed that there are erotic dances and striptease.
In this app, minors can mix freely with adults and that is where the great alert is, while she was posing as a 13-year-old girl, adult men approached her to tell her that their avatars could undress and “do unspeakable things” . As well as others, they spoke to him about “playing erotic roles”.
Andy Burrows, stated that this research showed that children were being “exposed to really harmful and completely inappropriate experiences”. However, Meta responded that its network has tools that allow players to block other users and that it is examining how to make improvements “as it learns how people interact in these spaces.”