Digital Transformation Brand Safety Virtual Reality (VR)

Meta takes ‘personal boundary’ step after complaints of avatar harassment

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By John Glenday | Reporter

February 7, 2022 | 3 min read

Facebook’s efforts to distance itself from scandal by donning virtual reality (VR) clothing have come unstuck in beta testing, with some users taking advantage of their digital freedoms to harass others.

Facebook force field to block wandering hands

One Horizon Worlds beta tester complained of harassment after her avatar was groped

Meta has given all VR participants a two-foot ‘personal boundary’ by default, blocking wayward hands from drawing too close after one Horizon Worlds beta tester complained of harassment after her avatar was groped.

While Meta did have the foresight to implement blocking functionality to prevent unwanted attention, the company admits that this was neither “trivially easy” to activate nor readily “findable,” prompting moves to surface such functionality more prominently.

The force field-style safety mechanism has been rolled out across the Worlds creation hub and Horizon Venues live event space, limiting interactions between avatars to a simple fist bump or high five. This will be hardcoded by Meta to prevent infractions, but the company is keeping the door open to a relaxation of its policy in the future by permitting people to relax their radius of interaction once they become more comfortable.

Launched just two months ago, the flagship services are on the cutting edge of Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of a virtual future in which social interactions are facilitated by artificial interactive environments – a far cry from the predominantly text- and image-based exchanges of today.

Digital Transformation Brand Safety Virtual Reality (VR)

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