Lawmakers Urge Mark Zuckerberg to Keep Metaverse Away From Teens After Failing to Protect Young Users

Two Democratic Senators are urging Mark Zuckerberg to stop his plans to provide teens access to the Metaverse by decreasing the minimum age requirement for its “Horizon Worlds” program. They are criticizing Meta for how it previously handled the privacy and data of young people.

In a joint letter to Meta creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal encouraged the company to drop plans to make the app’s virtual reality function accessible to kids between the ages of 13 and 17. At present time, the software only allows users who are at least 18 years old.

A Meta representative stated in a statement to Insider that the Quest VR platform, which is required to access Horizon via a virtual reality headset, “has always been built for persons ages 13+” and that as a result, “it makes sense” for the firm to target younger age groups.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Meta intends to make the Horizon Worlds app available to teenagers in order to increase the program’s user base. The Journal quotes Horizon vice president Gabriel Aul as saying that increasing customer retention among young consumers was a primary focus in an internal memo to workers.

Markey and Blumenthal made a strong case in their letter that Meta poses a threat to the safety of American teenagers by focusing on the company’s prior work with minors and young adults.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Receives a Legal Barrage

A flurry of lawsuits has been filed against Meta in the past year alone alleging that its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, injure minors. Two of these lawsuits claim that Instagram causes eating problems in teenagers.

The senators argued that any plan to draw young users into a digital environment riddled with dangers shouldn’t be motivated by a desire to maximize profit. We demand that you immediately put a stop to Meta’s scheme to allow teen users on Horizon Worlds.

Sen. Markey has a history of closely examining virtual reality, particularly as it relates to kids. He requested the Federal Trade Commission to look into companies developing apps in the Metaverse in February, particularly with regard to children’s privacy and security.

The corporation spent billions creating the Metaverse, a young virtual environment that enables users to communicate naturally in what Meta compares to a new internet.

Yet, the Journal claims that Horizon Worlds, the Metaverse’s main property, has had trouble attracting and retaining customers. By the end of the year, Meta wants one million active users on Horizon.

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