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Hey there, listeners. It’s Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. Facebook parent company, Meta, said it plans to add a personal boundary to avatars in its virtual platforms, like Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, after a woman claimed her digital avatar was sexually assaulted in one of these experiences.
In a statement that was published on Friday, Meta said the boundary will create nearly a four foot distance between a person’s avatar and all the other avatars in these virtual worlds. You can read more about this in my story on tech.usatoday.com. The update will roll out Friday. It applies to Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues. Here is the quote from Vivek Sharma, the vice president of Horizon. “We believe personal boundary is a powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably. It’s an important step and there’s so much work to be done.”
This boundary was introduced following a recent blog post published by a UK woman who claims her avatar was virtually raped by a group of male avatars in Horizon Worlds. She talks about how, within 60 seconds of joining Horizon Worlds, she was verbally and sexually assaulted by three to four male avatars. These avatars took photos and they sent her nasty comments. Overall, just a very frightening experience, and a reminder that with the launch of this metaverse, it is going to be companies that need to be responsible for users and making sure that they are safe and they feel comfortable in these experiences, and it’s especially important for Meta because they have this very big plan to lure people into the metaverse, which, as you know, is this combo of virtual reality, augmented reality, social media. A lot of the supporters of this believe this could eventually take over how we use the internet. But again, people aren’t going to be interested if it doesn’t feel like it’s a safe, comfortable environment to be in, and this is, again, a very scary example of what could lurk in the metaverse, and at some point I think it’s going to be up to companies to figure out the best solutions to ensure that everybody feels safe.
You can read more about this story, more details on the metaverse on tech.usatoday.com. Listeners, let’s hear from you. Do you have any comments, questions, show ideas, any tech problems you want us to try to address? You can find me on Twitter @brettmolina23. Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts. Don’t forget, if you want tech news delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to the Talking Tech newsletter. It’s out every Thursday. Go to newsletters.usatoday.com. You’ve been listening to Talking Tech. We’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: A ‘personal boundary’ in the metaverse: Talking Tech podcast