Two Democratic senators sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. They asked him not to release the Horizon Worlds metaverse app to young individuals over safety concerns.
Meta is facing more trouble with respect to its metaverse plans, with Democratic senators calling for the company not to release Horizon Worlds to teenagers. The Wall Street Journal reported on March 2 that two Democratic senators had sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, asking for a halt.
Metaverse Concerns for Kids and Teens
The issue that the senators, Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, have is the often-discussed effects of social media on young individuals. The senators imply that Meta does not do enough to protect the youth from the effects of online social platforms. The letter reads,
“In light of your company’s record of failure to protect children and teens and a growing body of evidence pointing to threats to young users in the metaverse, we urge you to halt this plan immediately.”
Safety was not the only concern, as the senators pointed to research that indicated that VR use could lead to nausea and eye strain.
In the past, Meta has had the spotlight shone on it for issues on services aimed at children. A bug in the Messenger Kids service allowed children between 6 and 12 to talk to strangers in some instances.
The tech giant has also faced criticism for its Horizon Worlds metaverse app before, with reports of individuals behaving inappropriately. The company has not released a statement or commented on the matter yet.
Meta Records Heavy Losses From Reality Labs in 2022
The latest salvo against Meta from lawmakers will not do the social media giant any good, as the company has already faced extensive losses from its metaverse efforts. Last year, it recorded a $13.7 billion loss for its Reality Labs department, forcing a change in its priorities this year.
Still, it is continuing its efforts to flesh out its metaverse offerings, engaging Chinese firm Tencent in a bid to distribute its Meta Quest VR headset. Only a few days ago, it announced that it would work on its own AI chatbot and formed a top-level AI team to that end.
EU Antitrust Chief Says Metaverse Competition Needs Scrutiny
Even with Meta’s attempts to make the metaverse safer, the overall landscape of this trend may not provide easy growth. Regulators have increasingly paid attention to this burgeoning space, with the EU antitrust chief saying that competition needs scrutiny. Margrethe Vestager remarked, “it’s already time for us to start asking what healthy competition would look like in the metaverse.” This is certainly a strong sign of lawmakers’ sentiments.
The EU commissioner has also made similar statements, saying at an event in Brussels that regulations must prioritize safety. In any case, breaking in the metaverse space and subsequent growth isn’t as straightforward as corporations would hope.
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