According to a BBC News study, children can view sexual material and endure online grooming in the metaverse.
A researcher was able to attend virtual strip clubs where avatars simulated sex using the metaverse software VRChat. She was also shown sex toys and condoms, and numerous adult men approached her.
The program is rated for users over the age of 13 and has a variety of benign virtual locations for users to meet, such as a McDonald’s restaurant. However, there are a variety of adult areas available to individuals of all ages, such as pole dancing and strip clubs. To set up her account, the researcher constructed a phony profile and did not get her genuine identity examined. The sole stipulation was that the user is a Facebook user.
The researcher stated they witnessed racial slurs and a rape threat on the virtual platform, which users can explore with 3D avatars, in addition to viewing sexual content and being subjected to attempted grooming.
She also mentioned other users’ remarks about the app’s sexual material, including one who said avatars “may become naked and do awful things.”
The program may be downloaded from an App Store
The program may be downloaded from an App Store on the Meta Quest headset, formerly known as the Oculus Quest, even though it was not made by Meta. The program does not require users to be of legal age and simply requires them to have a Facebook account.
The BBC journalist employed this technology, which accounts for 75% of the market, to investigate the VRChat app. Horizon is the name of Meta’s version.
The findings add to concerns about privacy and security in the metaverse, which is an open-ended collection of virtual reality experiences, locations, and assets. In the future months and years, this virtual world is likely to expand significantly, and it will become increasingly adaptable for usage in ordinary life, such as work and moviegoing. Big tech giants like Facebook owner Meta, Microsoft, and Google are expected to lead the way in technology.
Security experts, on the other hand, have expressed reservations about the metaverse’s security methods, particularly the verification of users’ real-world identities.
“Fake news, harmful actors, pornographic stuff,” claimed Alexey Khitrov, CEO of ID R&D, in response to the story. The metaverse, or any environment where people hide behind avatars, poses numerous threats to children. Age verification procedures that work are essential for keeping children from accessing potentially hazardous content.
“To avoid scenarios where a youngster might access an adult’s account, metaverse providers will need effective identity verification, both during the sign-up process and continuously while the platform is utilized, to screen out bogus identities from actual persons.” This can be accomplished by using facial recognition technology.”