Meta’s Horizon Worlds gets closed member areas
Members only: Meta is introducing closed worlds for private communities in Horizon Worlds. This may be an attempt to put more responsibility on the community.
Meta is currently testing members-only, invitation-only worlds for its proto-metaverse Horizon Worlds. The members-only worlds are private worlds that can be created in the otherwise largely open social VR experience. Previously, only the 18+ worlds in Horizon Worlds had limited access. Now, for the first time, users can create entire worlds for themselves and their friends that are inaccessible to outsiders.
Private worlds have been in alpha testing since January 30, 2023. During testing, these worlds can have up to 150 registered members, but only 25 can enter at a time. This allows for private gaming or discussion groups with friends and family. Creators building their own worlds in Horizon Worlds may also want to give certain community members exclusive VIP access to their latest creations or offer closed design classes.
Meta wants to encourage community building
On the Oculus blog, Meta writes: “Every community develops its own norms, etiquette, and social rules over time as it fosters a unique culture. To enable that, we’ll provide the tools that allow the creators of members-only worlds to set the rules for their communities and maintain those rules for their closed spaces.”
Group leaders will also be able to take on moderation tasks and delegate them to other community members. This will be based on Meta’s Code of Conduct for Virtual Experiences. It is not clear to what extent Meta’s own moderators will still intervene.
Will private rooms solve Meta’s moderation issues?
For now, Horizon Worlds is only accessible through the Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro VR headsets. However, a non-VR social app is expected to be released in the near future, which could lead to more users.
With accessibility via smartphones, laptops, or consoles, the moderation effort is likely to be much greater, and Meta seems to have some catching up to do. One experiment revealed serious moderation problems. Questionable content was not detected, and the moderation team did not respond until days after it was reported.
The introduction of private worlds may be an attempt to shift at least some responsibility for community moderation onto the shoulders of the users themselves. Whether this will make Horizon Worlds a friendlier virtual world remains to be seen.
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