Meta Brings Privacy-Focused ‘Personal Boundary’ To VR Avatars

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The Meta Horizon virtual reality experiences will feature a “personal boundary” system to stop harassment and increase privacy. According to The Verge, this new system is enabled by default at the Horizon Worlds creation platform, and the Horizon Venues live event service.

As VR expands its role in our lives, concerns about its privacy are rising. Meta is also a pioneer company in developing VR experiences, and it needs to address privacy concerns.

The “personal boundary” system prevents other people from getting too close by creating an invisible virtual barrier around avatars. If someone tries to violate your space, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary.

Meta currently has a feature that disappears the user’s hand if they get too close to other people’s avatar.

“Personal Boundary will begin rolling out today everywhere inside of Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues, and will by default make it feel like there is an almost 4-foot distance between your avatar and others,” Meta noted in its announcement.

Personal boundary wants to protect users in VR space

Meta spokesperson Kristina Milian said that the feature is activated by default, and users can’t deactivate it. The system aims to establish standard norms for interactions in VR space. However, users might be able to change the radius size.

The Meta Horizon Worlds has been in the testing phase for a long time, and the company made it public a few months ago. After it went public, a user reported that her avatar was abused and groped by another person. Later, the she said that she had to use the block feature to stop harassers. However, the Meta noted that the users had some more options to prevent harassment. Also, the company will make the block button “trivially easy and findable.”

This wasn’t the first VR sexual harassment and won’t last. VR social spaces mostly use personal space bubbles to protect users. However, users can change the size or turn the feature off. The companies developing VR products and systems must raise the bar and add more privacy-driven features.

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