A researcher found that children can freely access adult content in the Metaverse, and witness sexual material, racist insults, and threats in the virtual reality world. The VR application is not made by Meta (formerly known as Facebook), but it’s published on Meta Quest’s app store that doesn’t require any age verification to download and gain access.
The BBC reports that a researcher, who posed as a 13-year old girl, witnessed adult material, received racist insults, and was threatened in the virtual reality world. The BBC News researcher said that they visited an application that received a minimum age rating of 13, where they were surrounded by various adult content, and were approached by adult men.
The researcher said they created fake profiles to set up the account to gain access to the app store and various other content offered by the VR chat platform. The researcher's identity was never checked, and there were no restrictions on the account, therefore any content that is rated (even falsely) on the platform has become fully accessible. The VRChat app also didn’t verify the user’s age.
The Metaverse platform allows people to connect and create virtual places to hang out, meet each other, play games, and do what otherwise would be available in the real world. Businesses are also looking into holding events virtually, and some companies are already holding conference talks and other business meetings in virtual worlds.
Meta told the BBC that it has tools that allow players to block other users on the platform, and it’s looking into making the Metaverse safe for everyone “as it learns how people interact in these spaces.” However, it remains to be seen if the company manages to introduce any restrictions to access content that is deemed to be used by adults only.