BBC researcher used the profile of 13-year old to visit virtual reality rooms, where avatars mimicked sex.
A BBC investigation found that apps in the Metaverse allow children to be exposed to inappropriate contexts. One researcher for the public broadcasting corp. posed as a girl aged 13 in virtual-reality VRChat and saw grooming, sexual material, and a rape threat.
BBC News researcher used VRChat. He signed up at the minimum age of 13, but was still allowed to view virtual-reality rooms in which avatars were simulating sexual activity. While being propositioned repeatedly by several males, the journalist was presented with condoms and sex toys.
She witnessed rape threats, racism and grooming.
A user informed the BBC researcher that avatars are possible. “get naked and do unspeakable things”Others spoke of it. “erotic role-play.”Metaverse allows children to mix freely with adult users.
VRChat offers users the chance to meet as 3D avatars in a variety of rooms including innocent places like a McDonald’s restaurant and in not-so-innocuous settings such as pole-dancing and strip clubs.
The researcher used a Meta Quest headset, developed by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta company, formerly known as Facebook. VRChat, although not manufactured by the social media giant Facebook, can be downloaded via an app store using a Meta Quest headset. Registration is easy and requires only a Facebook account.
BBC researcher signed up with a false account.
Andy Burrows of the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), told the BBC that online safety needs to be improved urgently.
Burrows labeled the BBC’s findings as “extraordinary.” “This is a product that is dangerous by design, because of oversight and neglect. We are seeing products rolled out without any suggestion that safety has been considered,”He said this, while blaming the lack in consideration for children’s welfare and any potential harm to them.
Meta asserts it can lock out people from its apps, and Meta is working to improve safety. “as it learns how people interact in these spaces.”
Zuckerberg is among a host of tech moguls who think that virtual space is the future for the internet. This allows people to live a virtual life and do both their work and pleasure.
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