Meta is putting a stop to virtual groping in its metaverse by creating 4-foot safety bubbles around avatars

Meta launched Personal Boundary on Friday.

Meta has responded to reports of virtual groping in Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues.
It’s introduced a feature dubbed Personal Boundary that creates 4-foot safety bubbles around avatars.
A Meta exec said the feature would make it “easier to avoid unwanted interactions.”

Meta has responded to reports of virtual sexual harassment in its metaverse by limiting how close avatars can get to each other.

With a new feature dubbed Personal Boundary, launched Friday, avatars in Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues won’t by default be permitted to get within about four feet of one another.

In January, a 43-year-old British woman claimed she was virtually groped by a gang of male avatars in Horizon Venues. In December, a woman claimed she was virtually groped in Horizon Worlds.

Vivek Sharma, vice president of Horizon, said in a blog post Friday that Personal Boundary would create “more personal space for people and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions.”

He said: “If someone tries to enter your Personal Boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary. You won’t feel it—there is no haptic feedback.

“This builds upon our existing hand harassment measures that were already in place, where an avatar’s hands would disappear if they encroached upon someone’s personal space.”

Although Personal Boundary will be turned on by default, users should still be able to high-five or fist-bump by extending their arms. 

A spokesperson for Meta told The Verge that users can’t choose to disable Personal Boundary because it’s intended to establish norms for interaction in Meta’s metaverse.

Meta did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the new feature. 

Horizon Worlds lets users hang out with up to 20 people in a virtual space. Horizon Venues allows people to create avatars that can watch online events together.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has told employees to focus on video content amid competition from TikTok and following a brutal post-earnings market cap loss. Insider’s Sarah Jackson reported that Meta would be zeroing in on Instagram Reels. 

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