When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here’s how it works.

Child safety groups urge Meta to halt metaverse rollout to minors

The jury is still out on what the "metaverse" actually is, what benefits it brings, and whether it will eventually gain any traction in the long term. However, that hasn't stopped some companies from investing time, money, and effort into the initiative. Now, child safety advocacy groups are calling on Meta to halt its initiative to open its metaverse to minors.

Metaverse graphic with question marks

Right now, Meta's flagship metaverse Horizon Worlds has an age restriction of 18. However, the company plans to make it officially available to a younger audience, namely teens aged between 13 and 17, soon. Some U.S. senators already criticized Meta for this move last month, and they are now being joined by child safety advocacy groups too.

A letter addressed to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and signed by Common Sense Media, Fairplay, and the Center for Countering Digital Hate emphasized that:

Meta must wait for more peer-reviewed research on the potential risks of the metaverse to be certain that children and teens would be safe.

[...] Should Meta throw open the doors of these worlds to minors rather than pause to protect them, you would, yet again, demonstrate your company to be untrustworthy when it comes to safeguarding young people’s best interests.

It also highlighted a report from a research group which showed that out of 100 visits made to Horizon Worlds by minors, 19 were subject to sexual harassment and abuse from adults.

That said, a Meta spokesperson has dismissed these concerns, saying that the firm will have additional controls and protections in place when Horizon Worlds actually is open to teenagers. They noted that:

Before we make Horizon Worlds available to teens, we will have additional protections and tools in place to help provide age-appropriate experiences for them. Quest headsets are for people 13+ and we encourage parents and caretakers to use our parental supervision tools, including managing access to apps, to help ensure safe experiences.

Based on the statement, it doesn't seem like Meta plans to pay heed to the warnings and halt its wider rollout plans. However, the company is definitely aware of the dangers posed by its community. Over a year ago, it introduced "anti-rapist forcefields" in Horizon Worlds following an instance of a woman being "virtually gang-raped" in its app.

Source: Bloomberg

Report a problem with article
Speaker View in Microsoft teams
Next Article

Microsoft Teams makes the new Speaker View feature available for public preview

Steamworks artwork
Previous Article

A Steam profile helped the US government arrest an alleged leaker of classified documents

Join the conversation!

Login or Sign Up to read and post a comment.

3 Comments - Add comment