The jury is still out on what the “metaverse” actually is, what benefits it brings, and whether it will eventually gain any traction in the long term. However, that hasn’t stopped some companies from investing time, money and effort into the initiative. Now, child safety advocacy groups are calling on Meta to halt its move to open its Metaverse to minors.
Right now, Meta’s flagship Metaverse Horizon Worlds Age restriction is 18 years. However, the company plans to make it officially available for a younger audience, i.e. teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17, soon. Some U.S. senators had already criticized Meta over the move last month, and now they’re joining child safety advocacy groups.
A letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from Common Sense Media, Fair Play, and the Center for Countering Digital Hate emphasized that:
Metaverse should await further peer-reviewed research on the potential risks of Metaverse to be sure that children and adolescents will be safe.
[…] If Metta should block these worlds to protect them rather than open them to minors, you’ll once again show your company to be untrustworthy when it comes to protecting the best interests of young people.
He also highlighted a report by a research group which stated that out of 100 visits were made. Horizon Worlds Of the minors, 19 were victims of sexual harassment and abuse by adults.
That said, a Meta spokeswoman dismissed those concerns, saying the firm would have additional controls and safeguards in place when Horizon Worlds Actually open to youth. He noted that:
Before we make Horizon Worlds available to teens, we’ll have additional considerations and tools to help provide age-appropriate experiences for them. Quest headsets are for people 13+ and we encourage parents and guardians to use their parental monitoring tools, including managing access to apps, to help ensure safe experiences.
Based on the statement, it doesn’t seem like Meta plans to heed the warnings and stop its broader rollout plans. However, the company is certainly aware of the risks it poses to its community. A year ago, he introduced “anti-rapist force fields.” Horizon Worlds After an example of a woman being “virtually gang-raped” in his app.