March 6, 2023

Meta Warned Not To Market Metaverse App To Teens

Meta Warned Not To Market Metaverse App To Teens Featured Image

Two US lawmakers urged Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to halt the plan to offer Horizon Worlds, the company’s flagship virtual reality app, to teens whose age range between 13 and 17, warning that the technology could pose risks to the teens’ physical and mental health.

In the call made by two lawmakers Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, they said Meta’s plan is unacceptable, pointing to the company’s record of failing to protect children and teens and a growing body of evidence pointing to threats to young users in the metaverse, according to CNN.

In their letter, the two lawmakers raised their concerns over the metaverse’s effects on teens, saying the initial findings are highly concerning, including privacy invasion, collection of data on face and eye movement, and manipulation related to the increased ability to persuade users in an inherently immersive environment

“Your plans to imminently pull these young people into an under-researched, potentially dangerous virtual realm with consequences for their physical and mental health is unacceptable,” they wrote, adding: “Any strategy to invite young users into a digital space rife with potential harms should not be driven by a goal to maximize profit. We call on you to immediately halt Meta’s plan to bring teen users onto Horizon Worlds.”

Horizon Worlds, a company currently markets for users 18 years or older, is a “virtual universe with thousands of experiences,” including games, live events, and communication capabilities.

It is worth noting that Meta Platforms’ Reality Labs virtual reality unit reported the biggest loss in a quarter, hitting $$4.28 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to $3.304 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

The company’s metaverse division posted collective losses worth $13.72 billion throughout the last year. Reality Labs’s losses were more than six times its revenues in 2022 as its overall revenues recorded $2.16 billion ($727 million in the fourth quarter), compared to $2.27 billion in 2021.

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