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Sexual Harassment – Obsession in the Metaverse

As the virtual world becomes more and more real, users are facing a series of problems, such as hate speech and sexual harassment.

In less than a minute in Facebook’s Horizon Venues virtual universe, psychotherapist Nina Jane Patel was attacked by a group of men. The attackers almost “gang raped” her profile picture. Patel was extremely shocked before trying to escape from this virtual world.

“The experience was horrible. Psychologically, I was almost frozen,” Patel said.

A recent Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into children’s cyberspace found plenty of hate speech, sexual harassment or even paedophilia.

Many experts believe that the environment of the virtual universe is similar to that of the early days of the Internet. They are hardly censored or have user protection algorithms like on social media platforms today.

Reports also indicate that such experiences are not uncommon. A 2018 study by The Extended Mind found that 36% of men and 49% of women who regularly use virtual reality technology have experienced sexual harassment.

Today, the normal Internet environment is still riddled with bullying, hate speech, and a plethora of illegal content. According to experts, these negative problems will not disappear in the metaverse.

According to David J Chalmers, a professor of philosophy and neuroscience at New York University, “physical bullying” directed at avatars can be more damaging than verbal bullying. speaking on traditional social media platforms.

Transitioning a social media platform like Facebook into the metaverse means moving from content moderation to behavior moderation. In a leaked memo in November 2021, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s chief technology officer, admitted that it was “impossible”.

Last year, Facebook said it was working on how to enforce AI censorship in the metaverse. However, to date, the company has not created any effective tools to do this.

“AI is not yet smart enough to intercept audio streams in real time and identify if someone is being offended. It is not possible to monitor the entire online space in real time,” said Andy Phippen, professor of digital rights at Bournemouth University (UK).

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