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Zuckerberg forcing avatars to social distance in Metaverse Virtual Reality

Survivors of online harassment get their own safe "bubble."

People are being forced to follow social distance rules in the virtual reality realm known as Metaverse, but it isn’t for the reason you think.

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After worries that Mark Zuckerberg’s ideas for a Metaverse will lead to a fresh wave of online s*xual abuse, the social media tycoon’s virtual reality startup is introducing a mandatory social distance between people’s digital avatars.

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Is s*xual harassment a real issue with virtual reality? Is it possible to be groped or physically assaulted in a virtual reality plane? According to some women, yes — you can.

Despite Zuckerberg’s billion-dollar gamble on virtual reality as the next source of development for his enterprise, his plan has already been hampered by concerns that virtual worlds are allegedly “riddled with s*xual abuse.”

It was in December that a user of Zuckberg’s Meta virtual reality software, Horizon Worlds, was grabbed while using the service and requested that their avatar, or digital representation, be protected by a virtual “bubble.”

“Being in VR adds another dimension that makes the event more intense,” added the user. “Sexual harassment on the conventional internet is no joke.”

A MeeToo-like movement started on Meta’s social media platform, Facebook, as hundreds of women claimed about being “virtually groped and harassed” in Zuckerberg’s virtual world.

This week Meta introduced personal boundaries which forces users to “social distance” on two VR apps: Horizon Worlds, where individuals can meet other VR users and construct their own world; and Horizon Venues, which offers events like comedy performances or music gigs in a virtual environment. A distance of four feet in virtual reality, according to the business, is the VR equivalent of standing four feet apart.

“A personal boundary prevents anyone from invading your avatar’s personal space. If someone tries to enter your personal boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Meta is introducing the 4ft boundary — or social distance rule — as a default setting and will consider further changes such as letting people set their own boundaries.

“We think this will help to set behavioural norms – and that’s important for a relatively new medium like VR,” said Meta.

Facebook/Meta took a massive blow earlier this week when their stock nosedived to a historic low. In just one hour, Facebook/Meta dropped by USD$230 billion, taking with it Zuckerberg’s personal nett worth.

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