According to a Tuesday announcement by Meta, teens in the US and Canada will soon have access to the social VR platform Horizon Worlds. Meta will have certain extra features in place for teen players, defined as those between the ages of 13 and 17, to assist create a safer experience on the platform.
For instance, teen accounts will be private by default, and Meta will not display a teen’s online status unless they want to do so. Teens will also by default have access to the “voice mode” option, which converts unfamiliar voices into quiet, friendly sounds and muddles your own voice.
In the “people you might know” tab, Meta won’t display any adults who the teenager doesn’t know. Additionally, the business claims to have included its VR parental control toolkit to Horizon Worlds.
The network, which has had trouble keeping users, might draw more players as a result of the teens-only expansion. However, the choice has received a lot of backlash. After learning about his intentions via The Wall Street Journal in February, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal wrote to Mark Zuckerberg in March and pleaded with him to abandon them.
The senators wrote, “Meta’s plan to target young people with offerings in the metaverse is particularly concerning in light of your consistent failures to protect young users. With a documented track record of failure to protect children and teens, Meta has lost parents’, pediatricians’, policymakers’, and the public’s trust.”
By making Horizon Worlds more approachable to teenagers, Meta is increasing pressure on Horizon Worlds to compete with other metaverse-like platforms like Fortnite and Roblox, which also feature specific safeguards for younger users. Furthermore, Meta should soon make Horizon Worlds available on the web and mobile devices.