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Woman Claims Her Avatar Was 'Virtually Gang-Raped' In Facebook's Metaverse

Stewart Perrie

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Woman Claims Her Avatar Was 'Virtually Gang-Raped' In Facebook's Metaverse

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

A woman has claimed her avatar in Facebook's metaverse was sexually assaulted by other users.

Nina Jane Patel recounted her experience in a Medium article, where she alleged the incident happened within seconds of her joining.

Ms Patel works as the vice president of research for a rival metaverse and wanted to take a look around Meta's Horizon Venues.

The virtual world is currently in beta testing at the moment and Meta says you can experience live events like 'concerts, sports, comedy, and more' from 'the best seat in the house'.

"Be in the center of it all in this safe and social experience, or choose solo mode for focused viewing," Meta says on the Oculus website.

However, Nina's experience of Horizon Venues appeared to be far from safe.

In her post, she wrote: "Within 60 seconds of joining - I was verbally and sexually harassed - 3-4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos."

She said that as she tried to get away, the virtual abusers yelled at her 'don't pretend you didn't love it' and 'go rub yourself off to the photo'.

"A horrible experience that happened so fast and before I could even think about putting the safety barrier in place. I froze," she added. "It was surreal. It was a nightmare."

She told The Daily Mail that she ripped off her headset quickly to end the experience and has been suffering from anxiety since.

When Nina posted about her experience, she said some people told her not to choose a female avatar next time or that she shouldn't be affected by it because it wasn't real.

Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Meta has responded to Ms Patel's experience and says there are technical barriers that can be put in place to prevent this from happening.

"We're sorry to hear this happened. We want everyone in Horizon Venues to have a positive experience, and easily find the safety tools that can help in a situation like this - and help us investigate and take action," a Meta spokesperson told Insider.

"Horizon Venues should be safe, and we are committed to building it that way.

"We will continue to make improvements as we learn more about how people interact in these spaces, especially when it comes to helping people report things easily and reliably."

Users can press a safety button that prevents other avatars from getting in their space or from interacting with them.

In Nina's case, she said it happened so quickly that she didn't have time to put the safety system in place.

Topics: News, Technology

Stewart Perrie
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