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According to the advocates, Meta will expose teenagers and young adults to harassment and privacy violations.
Social media giant Meta has received a huge backlash following its recent Metaverse announcement. While its metaverse app Horizon Worlds currently serves users of 18 years and above, the platform recently revealed plans to make room for users aged 13 to 17 as well.
Advocacy Groups Raise Concerns
Dozens of advocacy organizations and children’s safety groups are already kicking against Meta’s decision to allow minors access to its Metaverse app.
Per a Bloomberg report, a letter has been written to Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, calling on Meta to stop all such plans immediately. The report also confirms that safety groups such as Fairplay, Common Sense Media, and the Center for Countering Digital Hate are among those groups that signed the letter.
According to the advocates, Meta will expose teenagers and young adults to harassment and privacy violations by inviting them to its virtual reality app. They reminded Meta that its app is only in its early stages, so there is first a need for proper research. The letter read in part:
“Meta must wait for more peer-reviewed research on the potential risks of the metaverse to be certain that children and teens would be safe.”
Meanwhile, the letter may have all to do with a March report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The report pointed out at least 19 out of 100 incidents where minors were abused by adults within the Horizon Universe.
It might also be worth mentioning that this is not the first time Meta is being called out over the effect of its products on youngsters. In 2021, a Facebook whistleblower alleged that the company was more interested in raking in profits than in ensuring the safety of children, especially teenage girls.
Will Meta Heed Advice?
While the advocates have lent their voices, it remains to be seen whether or not Meta will act on their advice. According to Bloomberg, however, Meta is showing no signs of entirely halting its plans for minors in the metaverse. Rather, it may be looking for ways to put additional protection measures for them. A Meta spokesperson identified as Joe Osborne said:
“Before we make Horizon Worlds available to teens, we will have additional protections and tools in place to help provide age-appropriate experiences for them.”
It remains to be seen how the company will prove that it can be trusted with protecting the interests of young people.