Tech executive claims he was 'gang raped' and warns of the dangers of the Metaverse.
Neena Patel, a psychotherapist and co-founder of the educational website Kavni, only appeared online in a female avatar, and just 60 seconds after registering for her first account, an anonymous, supposedly male, avatar appeared online. said he was targeted by four attackers. time.
One of them even said to her, “Don't pretend you didn't love me,” she recalled.
“They harassed me relentlessly and then committed what can only be described as sexual assault on my avatar,” the hypothetical victim said. daily maildescribed the violent encounter as “surreal” and “horrifying”.
The attack occurred within a virtual reality game called Horizon Worlds run by Meta. Patel said her attackers shouted obscenities at her and took photos of her avatar while ritually humiliating her.
She added: “Their actions were disgusting and disturbing.”
Patel said the anonymity and lack of accountability in the VR space was partly to blame for the plight she suffered.
“Some people may engage in such unpleasant behaviors in VR environments because they feel disconnected from their real-world identity and believe they can act without repercussions. Yes,” said Patel, an early adopter of VR technology.
“Another potential issue is that some VR platforms encourage and reward aggressive and violent behavior.”
Although virtual reality is artificial, its impact on real life is not. Mr Patel claims the aftermath can have an “emotional and psychological impact”.
“The intensity of the experience in the Metaverse can mirror the emotions felt in the physical world due to the immersive nature of these environments,” she said.
“This can lead to real trauma and emotional distress, similar to what would happen if you were physically assaulted.”
Ms Patel's harrowing experience echoes a similar case of a British teenager who called police after being assaulted in the Metaverse. Law enforcement officials compared her psychological trauma to that of someone who has been physically assaulted due to the immersive nature of VR.
“girl [who reported her attack to the police] It's very brave and she's breaking new ground,” Patel said to applause.
“It would not have been easy to bring this to the attention of the police, but she is taking another step with her actions. We don't know where it will lead, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Researcher at the nonprofit organization SumOfUs. A report has been published Within an hour of joining the VR space, it came under attack for the “rampant” harassment and abuse in the Metaverse, as well as the lack of action against users who break the game's rules.
“It happened so suddenly that I kind of lost touch with myself,” said the anonymous researcher. Part of my brain feels like something crazy is happening, another part of me is like, this isn't a real body, and another part of me is like, this is important research. That's what it felt like. ”
Meta representatives said the attack was due to not turning on the “Personal Boundaries” feature. When active, prevents non-friends from coming within 4 feet of your character's girlfriend.
However, Patel “froze up” and was unable to activate it in time.
“Most virtual reality users report encountering racism, homophobia, and sexual harassment directed at them personally or toward others,” Patel said.
“When you are in a VR environment, your brain often perceives the experience to be real, and you may feel authentic emotions such as excitement, fear, joy, and even a sense of presence in the virtual world.”
While negative experiences may “dissuade” others, Patel claims he is instead focusing on the “potential benefits of the metaverse” and the need for further safety measures and “responsible design”. It also emphasizes gender.
“Today, we are at a critical juncture where we have the opportunity to establish the foundations for a metaverse that does more good than harm,” she said, adding that her story “advocates for a safer metaverse.” I hope you can.
Until then, Patel isn't convinced that violence in the virtual world will stop.
“I'm not the first and I'm sure I won't be the last British girl who recently went through this and reported it to the police,” she said.