The Dark Side Of Metaverse—Experts warn Facebook’s metaverse poses ‘terrifying dangers.’ Facebook’s VR Metaverse (VRChat) has become a cesspool for predators who prey on children
Late last year, we wrote about why Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘metaverse’ plan and Facebook’s vision to take over people’s lives should terrify and scare everyone. As it turns out, the situation with Facebook’s Metaverse is a lot worse than we originally thought.
For those who have not been following the news, on October 28, 2021, Facebook released a video revealing it has changed its corporate name from Facebook to Meta to reflect its focus on the metaverse. The video was cringey and dystopian.
In the video, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg described Facebook’s new augmented reality, a world where you can be whatever you want to be, be seen how you want to be seen. And a world where you can escape the clutches of your atomized transient lonely life on planet Earth.
However, unknown to us when we wrote the piece, Facebook currently operates VRChat, the most reviewed social app in Facebook’s VR Metaverse. VRChat is an online virtual world platform app where users get their first taste of the metaverse and use full-body avatars to conceal their real identity. The app is especially popular among children and teenagers.
During the 2021 Christmas shopping season, millions of parents bought their children the Oculus Quest 2. However, many of these parents could be in for a surprise of their lives. Researchers at CounterHate, an international not-for-profit NGO that seeks to disrupt the architecture of online hate, found that VRChat is rife with abuse, harassment, racism, and pornographic content.
CounterHate researchers found that users, including minors, are exposed to abusive behavior every seven minutes including minors being exposed to graphic sexual content. VRChat also exposes users to bullying, sexual harassment, and abuse of other users, including minors. They also found that minors were groomed to repeat racist slurs and extremist talking points.
CounterHate reported all of these incidents to Facebook using their web reporting tool when they found them. Unfortunately, according to a report on their website, all of their reports about users who abused and harassed other users went unanswered. CounterHate wrote:
It’s just not good enough. When Mark Zuckerberg and Nick Clegg launched their vision of the Metaverse with great fanfare they said: “open standards, privacy and safety need to be built into the Metaverse from day one” … “you really want to emphasize these principles from the start”
Imran Ahmed, Chief Executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said:
“When Facebook launched the Metaverse for Oculus just in time for Christmas shopping, its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, pledged that privacy and safety is at the heart of Virtual Reality. But our researchers discovered that, contrary to his promises, Metaverse is a haven for hate, pornography and child grooming.”
Ahmed continued, “In our study, Metaverse connects users not just to each other but to an array of predators, exposing them to potentially harmful content every seven minutes on average. If Metaverse is safe for predators, it’s unsafe for users, especially children.
Ahmed went on to warn parents: “Any parent who gifted Facebook’s VR Oculus headset for Christmas needs to be aware that they are potentially exposing their children to serious danger.”
CounterHate is not the only organization reporting about the danger of the Facebook Metaverse. A YouTuber “VSF Studios” also shared several instances of a massive problem in VRChat including child exploitation and sexualization.
Meanwhile, there is no sign that Zuckerberg will give up on his company’s metaverse ambition. In 2021 it
was calculated that the average American spends five to six hours a day on their mobile phone and another four hours on their computer, which means if you sleep eight hours a day you spend almost double the number of your waking hours in the virtual world than you do in the real world but what about the other six hours of your
the waking day the hours we somehow managed to spend in the real world?
Well, that’s time that Facebook would like you to spend in its metaverse to make the company more money. That’s the six hours that’s Facebook is trying to take from people’s lives and take their addictions to new heights.
That’s not all. Professor David Reid, Professor of AI and Spatial Computing at Liverpool Hope University, is also warning that Facebook’s metaverse poses “terrifying dangers” and needs to be policed. Dr. Reid thinks it will change our lives just like the internet did and is very worried about potential dangers.
In a statement, Professor Reid said:
“The metaverse has huge implications – it comes with fantastic advantages and terrifying dangers. And we need a highly robust system in place to police the metaverse. We’re clearly in the very early stages but we need to start talking about these problems now before we go down a route we can’t reverse away from. It’s crucial for the future.”
Professor Reid is also concerned about surveillance in the metaverse and the vast amount of data that could be collected from the metaverse and who controls it.