Meta, previously known as Facebook, is under pressure from online safety organizations and advocates to abandon its plans to let kids join its metaverse program, Horizon Worlds. These groups want Meta to stop allowing minors to join Horizon Worlds. However, critics have claimed that the potential hazards of inviting teens and young people into the virtual reality platform have not been thoroughly studied. The corporation has previously declared its plans to welcome teenagers and young adults onto the platform.
The CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, received a letter on April 14 that was signed by representatives from a number of prominent safety organizations. These organizations include Airplay, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and Common Sense Media, amongst others. In the letter, Meta was urged to abandon its intentions and instead wait until more study into the possible dangers faced by children and teenagers when using the app has been carried out.
The campaigners voiced their worries over the metaverse’s potential for youngsters to be subjected to hazards such as bullying and invasions of privacy by suggesting that children would likely be more susceptible to these dangers in the virtual world. They referenced to a study that was published in March by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. In the research, incidences of abuse and harassment aimed at juveniles on the site by adults were recorded. During the course of 100 trips to the most popular planets in Horizon Universe, the study discovered 19 instances of inappropriate behavior.
In its answer to the letter, Meta emphasized that it was dedicated to protecting the health and safety of all of its users, including those who were under the age of 18. The business highlighted a variety of safety measures that were already available on the app, including as mechanisms for user reporting and content control. In addition to this, it underlined its continued efforts to collaborate with industry experts and safety professionals in order to enhance safety standards and decrease hazards for all users.
As virtual reality technology grows more widespread and user-friendly, it is expected that discussions over the participation of children and adolescents in virtual worlds will continue. Companies like Meta will need to strike a balance between the need for innovation and expansion and the need for responsible and ethical use of their platforms in order to safeguard vulnerable users. Advocacy organizations will likely continue to advocate for stricter safety measures and increased monitoring in order to protect vulnerable users. As the metaverse develops, it will be very necessary to find solutions to these problems and guarantee that all users may take part in an environment that is free from risk.