LONDON: A psychotherapist has spoken out about her experience of being “virtually gang raped” in Facebook’s metaverse.
Nina Jane Patel, 43, said the technological advancement of the simulation made it feel like it had happened in real life.
The metaverse researcher added that she was left “shocked” after three to four avatars attacked her moments after she stepped into the virtual world.
In a post on Medium, Patel said: “Within 60 seconds of joining — I was verbally and sexually harassed — three to four male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos. As I tried to get away, they yelled, ‘don’t pretend you didn’t love it.’”
She described it as a “horrible experience that happened so fast” that she did not have time to think about using “the safety barrier.”
Patel pointed out that her “physiological and psychological” reaction made it feel as though it was happening in real life and she “froze.”
A spokesperson for Meta said the tech company was sorry to hear about Patel’s ordeal and wanted Horizon Venues users 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.”
It is not the first time such claims of sexual violence in the metaverse have been flagged up. In early December, reports showed that a beta tester had alleged that a stranger had groped her avatar.
Following the incident, the tester said: “Sexual harassment is no joke on the regular internet but being in virtual reality adds another layer that makes the event more intense. Not only was I groped last night, but there were other people there who supported this behavior, which made me feel isolated in the Plaza.”