Stop, not frisk is the latest policy being implemented in Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook’s, Horizon metaverse worlds. In order to protect and limit users’ virtual avatars from unwanted intrusions into their personal space, and to disallow them from making any inappropriate intrusions into the space of others, a “Personal Space Boundaries” protocol is being introduced as part of a suite of safety protocols. Meta is adding the encoded rules to their VR social and virtual platforms Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues. The protocols maintain an unbreakable four-foot radius between avatars, halting the movement of a user if they attempt to pass beyond that threshold. The boundary itself isn’t visible, and only activates when it is crossed.
Creating and protecting more personal space for users and making it easier to avoid unwanted interactions are both important safety protocols to prevent cyber-bullying and harassment. The metaverse and virtual world engagements are still nascent experiences and platform technologies. Making users feel comfortable is the first step in creating an environment that encourages repeat visits and generates the excitement necessary for growth and adoption. Meta is building a robust set of anti-harassment measures in its Horizon metaverses. The intended outcome is to set a standard of good behavior and establish a baseline for how people should act in the virtual world. The protocols will be iterative as the tech company learns more about the various manners and methods through which metaverse interactions can both be protected and enhanced.
The Personal Boundary feature will be always-on by default to help set these behavioral norms. Meta, and other virtual world playgrounds like The Sandbox, Decentraland, Roblox, and more, are in a unique position of being first movers in a new medium and so responsible in part for providing implicit guardrails around acceptable behavior and interactions to ensure the highest level of comfort and experience for every user. Meta has indicated they may explore new controls and user interface changes in Horizon’s future, which might potentially include allowing users to customize the size of their Personal Boundary.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Foundational Strategies For The Metaverse.