“IT’S CHILDREN BEING EXPOSED TO ENTIRELY INAPPROPRIATE, REALLY INCREDIBLY HARMFUL EXPERIENCES.”
While Mark Zuckerberg might have you believe that the metaverse will usher in a utopian future, others aren’t so sure. Case in point: one metaverse app is being criticized for allowing children into virtual sex clubs.
A researcher posing as a 13-year-old was able to gain access to a virtual sex club via a metaverse app called VRChat, during an investigation from the BBC. The researcher was reportedly approached by numerous adult men, and also shown sex toys, condoms, and various avatars simulating sex.
It’s children being exposed to entirely inappropriate, really incredibly harmful experiences, Andy Burrows, head of online safety policy at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, told the broadcaster.
The issue stems from the fact that many apps accessible on VR devices don’t have age verification checks. As such, it was incredibly easy for the researcher to set up a fake profile and access the ostensibly adults-only experiences.
This is a product that is dangerous by design, because of oversight and neglect, Burrows told the BBC. We are seeing products rolled out without any suggestion that safety has been considered.
Currently, Meta doesn’t allow people younger than 13 to use the Oculus device. However, this can easily be circumvented by kids using their parents’ accounts, or by registering a fake account as the researcher the BBC talked to did.