Meta Platforms Inc, best known for its controversial twist as Facebook, says its mission is “to empower people to build community and bring the world together.” But not too close, it seems.
The mega-corporation wants to separate people in its metaverse. The advertising business, enamored with virtual reality now that it can no longer go fast and smash things with impunity in the real world, has pledged to caricature social distancing.
Now, avatars in its Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues will not be able to approach closer than four feet – as this distance would be rendered at any scale suitable for the viewer’s display screen – to avoid virtual assaults .
Vivek Sharma, VP of Meta’s Horizon Group, calls the company’s trial and error gap a “personal limit.”
“Personal Boundary prevents avatars from approaching a set distance from each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to prevent unwanted interactions,” he explained in a post. blog post Friday.
These personal boundaries, he says, will prevent other avatars from invading your avatar’s personal space, with no haptic feedback to simulate a collision.
“This builds on our existing hand harassment measures that were already in place, where an avatar’s hands would disappear if they intruded on someone’s personal space,” Sharma explained.
Online harassment, trolling and toxic behavior has been a problem on the Internet from modems and message boards. Those who have followed the tech industry for a while may recall a 1993 Village Voice article by author Julian Dibbell titled “A rape in cyberspace“, on the textual torments.
Well, this kind of behavior, which every mass-market multiplayer game has had to deal with, found its way into graphical environments where it turned out to be no longer welcome and not Wasn’t easier to get rid of. This was a problem over a decade ago in the headset-based precursor to the modern metaverse, Second Life, where virtual rape was sold for linden dollars and sexual assaults on avatars would be the cause of about 20% of reported violations.
And that’s a problem today. As the MIT Technology Review put it two months ago, “The metaverse already has a fumbling problem.” The word “already” here might be better interpreted as meaning “ever since”.
A Pew Research study last year, 41% of Americans experienced some form of online harassment, a rate comparable to 2017. But some forms of harassment show signs of increasing: 11% reported sexual harassment online, compared to 5% in 2014.
About 79% of people polled by Pew Research said social media companies are doing “a fair or poor job of addressing online harassment or bullying on their platforms.”
In a move underscoring the risk unchecked cartoon abuse poses to Meta’s multi-billion dollar metaverse hub, the advertising industry activates Personal Boundary by default. “[W]We think this will help set standards for behavior – and that’s important for a relatively new medium like virtual reality,” Sharma explained, allowing such security measures to become more customizable over time.
When Facebook reluctantly rolled out privacy controls for its social advertising platform, they were generally not enabled by default.
So strap on your VR headset and enjoy an adventure in a pixelated world, knowing that between the hidden and invisible barriers, no one will “reach out and touch someone” like AT&T used to suggest. Just be careful not to hurt yourself, Who happens occasionally, and if you experience nausea, eye fatigue or loss of balance, discontinue use immediately. the Health and Safety Warning Documents for Meta Quest (Oculus) headsets are extensive [PDF].
If you lose your lunch frolicking from a safe distance from VR trolls, know that Meta is losing its money for giving you this not-so-safe experience. At the recent company meeting revenue fiascoMeta broke for the first time revenue for Reality Labs, its metaverse division. In 2021, Reality Labs posted a loss of $10.2 billion, after spending $12.5 billion to earn $2.3 billion in revenue.
That’s more than double the $1.1 billion in revenue Reality Labs recorded in 2020, but it’s still not close to being a healthy business. ®