Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has faced backlash from safety groups and advocates for its plans to allow minors into its metaverse app, Horizon Worlds. In a letter addressed to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, safety groups including Airplay, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and Common Sense Media, among others, urged the company to scrap its plans until potential risks have been assessed.
The letter cited concerns over the safety and privacy of minors who may face harassment and privacy violations on the virtual reality app. According to a report by Bloomberg, the letter highlighted the need for Meta to wait for more peer-reviewed research on the potential risks of the metaverse before allowing children and teens to join.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate released a report in March that found users under the age of 18 have already been facing harassment from adults on the app. During 100 visits to the most popular worlds within Horizon Universe, the study documented 19 episodes of abuse directed at minors, including sexual harassment. These incidents further reinforce the concerns expressed by safety groups and experts.
Meta’s decision to allow minors into the metaverse raises questions about online safety and privacy. While the company has stated that it plans to impose safety measures to protect young users, safety groups argue that more needs to be done. The letter called for a more in-depth assessment of the risks involved and the implementation of stricter safety measures before allowing minors into the virtual reality app.
The debate around online safety and privacy for children and teenagers is not new. Over the years, social media companies have faced scrutiny for their handling of online safety for minors. The addition of virtual reality apps like Meta’s Horizon Worlds adds another layer of complexity to the issue. While virtual reality apps offer a unique experience, they also pose unique risks that must be addressed.
In conclusion, the call by safety groups and advocates for Meta to halt its plans to allow minors into the metaverse app, Horizon Worlds, highlights the importance of online safety and privacy for young users. While the company has promised to implement safety measures to protect minors, further assessment of potential risks and stricter measures are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of young users.