Meta moves to tackle creepy behaviour in virtual reality

Meta has announced a new feature to allow more personal space for people’s avatars in virtual-reality worlds.

The metaverse is still at concept stage but the latest attempts to create virtual worlds are already facing an age-old problem: harassment.

Bloomberg’s technology columnist Parmy Olson told the BBC’s Tech Tent programme about her own “creepy” experiences.

And one woman likened her own traumatic experience in VR to sexual abuse.

Meta has now announced a new feature, Personal Boundary, which begins rolling out on 4 February. It prevents avatars from coming within a set distance of each other, creating more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid these unwanted interactions.

It stops others “invading your avatar’s personal space”, said Meta.

“If someone tries to enter your Personal Boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary.”

It is being made available in Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues software. The firm said it was a “powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably,” but acknowledged there was more work to be done.

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