Meta, the social networking company, is facing some backlash for its plan to market and bring Horizon Worlds, its flagship meta universe app, to teenagers. Democratic senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal directed a letter to the company to stop these actions, citing concerns about the interactions teenagers could have in Meta’s virtual worlds.
Meta sees opposition to plans to adopt Metaverse for teenagers
Two Democratic senators have written a letter asking the Meta to halt its recently reported plan to open the world of the metaverse to teenagers. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, Democratic senators from Massachusetts and Connecticut, criticized the idea of opening up Horizon Worlds, Meta’s flagship metauniverse app, to teenagers 13 and older, citing various factors that could put them at risk through the interactions available in this virtual world.
The letter distinguishes between standard virtual reality experiences and Horizon Worlds, explaining that “the cumulative set of immersive virtual reality experiences that teenagers would encounter in socially managed Horizon Worlds differ from using a virtual reality headset, for example, to play a specific single-player game.” Therefore, inviting young teenagers into this environment carries serious risks.
Markey and Blumenthal are calling for a halt to the plan to protect the health of these young consumers and their privacy in the metaverse, blaming the company for its past mistakes involving this demographic.
Meta Teen Adoption Push
The Wall Street Journal reported about Meta’s plan to include teenagers in his metaverse on February 7th. According to an internal memo obtained by the news outlet, the company’s new strategy includes opening up the Horizon Worlds experience to teens over the age of 13. This would represent a change from the app’s current policies, which only allow users over the age of 18 to roam the virtual world.
According to the WSJ, Meta’s memo reinforces the need to provide these services to young users to keep growing. Horizon Worlds VP Gabriel Aul is reported to have stated:
Today, our competitors are doing a much better job of meeting the unique needs of these cohorts. For Horizon to succeed, we need to ensure that we serve this cohort first and foremost.
While Horizon Worlds experienced rapid growth in its early stages, increasing its user base tenfold soon after its launch in December 2021, the app was criticized for its buggy state even by Meta staff. In October, Vice President of Metaverse Vishal Shah recognized that the problems present in the app hinder the experience of its users and that even the company’s employees do not spend much time on it.
What do you think about the resistance the Meta is experiencing to giving Horizon Worlds to teenagers? Let us know in the comments section below.
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