From its delayed acquisition of fitness platform Within to being criticised as “under-qualified” to create the metaverse, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has encountered yet another impediment in the process of bringing his metaverse ambition to life.
Two US senators have told the Facebook founder not to move forward with the company’s plans to allow teenagers and underage minors to use its Horizon Worlds platform.
Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts took to Twitter to address Meta in a post saying that the company “has completely lost the public’s trust” and that Meta’s “latest attempt to bring kids onto the metaverse is just another flagrant attempt to exploit young people for profit.”
In another Twitter post, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut added that the company “pulling kids into risky virtual realms is unacceptable. Driven purely by profit, this platform creates dangers to children’s physical and mental health.”
Despite investing billions in its metaverse ambitions and laying off 11,000 of its employees (13% of its workforce) in November last year, the social media firm doesn’t seem to be getting its expected returns.
The company’s metaverse platform Horizon Worlds hasn’t been doing well either. The player base has shrunk and continues to shrink as it lacks returning users.
Despite claiming that the platform could attract half a million players, Meta later reduced the number to 280,000 and the player base for Horizon Worlds has yet to exceed 200,000 users.
Currently, only users aged 18 and above can access Meta’s Horizon Worlds but it seems the company is reportedly looking to bring the age restriction down a notch by allowing teenagers from age 13 to access Horizon Worlds.
Both US senators raised concerns surrounding the risk of exposing minors to online abuse with an image that reads “Any strategy to invite young users into a digital space rife with potential harms should not be driven by a goal to maximize profit. We call on you to immediately halt Meta’s plan to bring teen users onto Horizon Worlds.”
Meta is yet to make a statement on what its next move is to overcome this newest obstacle. And although Zuckerberg previously admitted that Meta’s Metaverse will likely not be viable for up to 15 years, it’s starting to seem like the company is aiming to make the platform viable a lot sooner than it intended.