Rape culture enters metaverse. Are women safe in Mark Zuckerberg’s game?

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    Our virtual world is steadily becoming as tactile as our physical world, as demonstrated by the British case, the first rape investigation in the Metaverse. The girl claims her own avatar in a virtual reality game owned by Mark Zuckerberg's Meta was raped. This is not over-the-top sensationalism. Her accusations bring us face to face with the spread of “rape culture” and new types of threats emerging in our multiverse.

    Just because it's virtual doesn't mean it's less invasive. Often, online abuse goes beyond the “safety valve”, its virtuality, and the threat becomes physical.

    If online abuse and trolling is to be treated as a hate crime, this case also needs serious focus.

    It is also time to consider that sexual violence is not just sexual violence. It's even more complicated. It is a form of domination and conquest, and as the digital universe mimics the real world, it accommodates even its ugliest and basest instincts. It's not that surprising that women were raped in the Metaverse.

    We live in a rape culture. The term “rape culture” gained credibility in India several years ago following the 2012 Delhi bus gang rape and murder.the defined Written by Roxanne Gay bad feminist“As a culture where it often seems like it's not a matter of if, but when, women are subjected to sexual violence.” This includes trolling, which often has sexual overtones. There are clear differences in how men and women are treated on the internet. While men are also victims of social media incitement that extends to abuse, they are exempt from certain categories of hatred that form the core of women's lives on the internet.

    “Attacks, lies and smear campaigns still have very real consequences. The physical realities of intimidation and stalking cannot be ignored.” write American journalist Taylor Lorenz discussed her decision not to share her personal life online in an essay.

    Also read: “Nudity in DMs, rape threats from 14-year-olds'': Female gamers say KYC is a start, but the government needs to do more

    real world effects

    Virtual worlds influence the real world and form some of our most important real-world events. Much has been written about the efforts of platforms like Meta and X to align with the Modi government and their role as popularizers (and perhaps manipulators) in the upcoming general elections.

    Given the enormous influence these platforms wield and the fact that they literally govern the world itself, you would think there would be more regulatory frameworks. But it appears as if the platform, and by extension its millions of users, are subject to the whims of its owners and CEOs, who are eccentric to say the least. When Twitter became X under Elon Musk, it experienced an avalanche of changes. This again had real-world implications. include Almost half of workers will lose their jobs. Given that many industries, such as news, rely heavily on the platform, there was a limit to the number of tweets that could be viewed in a day, a previously unthinkable phenomenon.

    Platform memorials are being written and rewritten. 2023 is said to be the year Twitter died.

    Mask's volatile personality may seem different from the woman being raped in the Metaverse. But they point out a disturbing truism. The platforms that are managing and making decisions about our lives essentially don't have the best interests of their users in mind.

    “I believe the Metaverse is the next chapter of the Internet. I think this will be the successor to what mobile Internet was,” Mark Zuckerberg said last year. He is calmly aware that he is once again trying to change the world. Tech founders are known for their inflated egos and inflated self-esteem, and for some, the hype is justified. They are responsible for changing our way of life and are leading some seriously steep developments.

    That's why it's alarming to think that guidelines for user safety and entire mechanisms for standardization are an afterthought. We can fix small bugs, but even if we can't, it's business as usual.

    Views are personal.

    (Edited by Therese Sudeep)


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