Listen to this episode on Cybertraps.com, Apple Podcast, or your podcast platform of choice.
- British Journalist Yinka Bokinni led production of a documentary, “Inside the Metaverse: Are You Safe?”, which is airing on UK Channel 4 later today
- She posed as both a 22-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl
- The interactions horrified her
What Is the Metaverse?
- Portmanteau of “meta” (“after” or “beyond”) and “universe” – so, “beyond the universe”
- A vague and complex term for an online space, typically including virtual reality OR a virtual world (like Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, etc.)
- No clear-cut definition, no established rules
- Few people fully appreciate how fast this will all happen
- Heavy reliance on user-generated content (particularly in chat rooms), which is protected by Section 230
- Headsets, glasses, contact lenses?
- Most companies anticipate some sort of digital economy within those spaces
- Some plans to incorporate physical sensations, like smell, touch, and sound
Who Can Access the “Metaverse”?
- Users of Oculus Quest (now called “Meta Quest”), a popular VR headset
- Apps are downloaded from the Oculus Quest Store that enable Oculus Quest users * to interact with each in virtual space
Apps can be used with multiple VR devices, not just Meta Quest
- Meta spokesperson:
We prohibit anyone under 13 from creating Quest accounts and design some experiences only for people 18 and over.
We have a suite of VR parental supervision tools to help parents and carers who choose to allow teens 13 and over to use the headset to monitor their use, limit the time they spend using it and ensure they take breaks.
Some Emerging Risks
- More Difficult for Parents to Monitor What Children Are Doing
- Distraction / Addiction
- Overspending on upgrades
- Loss of Privacy
- Physical Harms
- Motion sickness from immersive reality
- Discomfort / pain from wearing headsets too long
- Desensitization to harmful behavior
- Psychological Harms
- Racism / Misogyny / Hate Speech
** Probably analyzed on the basis of harmful speech, not physical crimes
- Sexual Harassment and Assault
** User can’t “feel” unwanted physical contact but is aware that other user is making those motions in their physical space
- Better Age Verification
- Young children can get access to various examples of the metaverse
- Better Enforcement of Age-Limited Content
- Easy for young children to get access to sexualized material and view other forms of anti-social behavior
- Parental Controls
- Proximity Shields
- Reporting Mechanisms
- Interesting Media Examples
** “Tron” [movie]
** Star Trek: The Next Generation holodeck [TV show]
** “Ready Player One” [book/movie]
** Zoom / Microsoft Teams / etc.
** “Mythic Quest” [TV show]
** Gather Town
** “Free Guy” [movie]
** “Upload” [TV show]
- Recent Articles
** #2022–04–25 What Is the Metaverse, Exactly?
** #2022–04–25 Metaverse is branded an ‘online Wild West’ by child safety campaigners as Channel 4 Dispatches uncovers evidence of sexual abuse and racism in the virtual reality world
** #2022–04–25 A barrage of assault, racism and rape jokes: my nightmare trip into the metaverse
** #2022–04–14 Meta to reveal first version of its Star Trek-style smart glasses in 2024 – and they WON’T be tethered to a phone
** #2022–04–10 Metaverse experts reveal if you can murder in VR – and whether you can be punished
** #2022–04–05 Coca-Cola launches virtual drink inside the metaverse and you can try it TODAY
** #2022–04–03 Experts predict how Mark Zuckerberg’s metaverse will change our mental health forever
** #2022–04–03 Struggling to buy a home? How spending your cash on land that DOESN’T EXIST could get you on the property ladder sooner
** #2022–03–23 Inside the plan for utopian metaverse city that will have almost no rules or police
** #2022–03–03 No Zuck-in way! Mark Zuckerberg claims we will all ‘live’ in the metaverse in the future and leave reality behind for a virtual world of our own creation
** #2022–02–25 Welcome to the metaverse, where the art is virtual but the headache is real
** #2022–02–05 Meta is putting a stop to virtual groping in its metaverse by creating 4-foot safety bubbles around avatars
** #2022–02–04 Meta adds ‘Personal Boundary’ to metaverse after ‘virtual gang rape’
** #2022–03–29 Mother says she was virtually groped by three male characters within seconds of entering Facebook’s online world Metaverse
** #2022–01–13 Surveillance will follow us into ‘the metaverse,’ and our bodies could be its new data source
** #2022–04–25 What is the Metaverse and why are billions of dollars being spent on it?
** #2021–12–30 The Metaverse’s Dark Side: Here Come Harassment and Assaults