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Kids are Welcomed into Metaverse Brothels and Strip Clubs

In the rapidly growing metaverse—a 3D virtual reality version of the internet—there is no differentiation between children and adults as they freely roam around and interact with others in virtual form.

Posing as a 13-year-old girl in a recent BBC investigation, researcher Jess Sherwood created a fake profile and entered a VR chat room, quickly finding her way to a metaverse strip club where she witnessed “grooming, sexual material, racist insults and a rape threat.”

She shared that one man approached her and explained that avatars can “get naked and do unspeakable things.” Others talked about “erotic role-play,” she said.

“A lot of the rooms were overtly sexualised in pink neon, similar to what you might see in the red light district in Amsterdam or in the more seedy parts of London’s Soho at night. Inside, sex toys were on display…Your options are to stay and watch, move on to another room where you might see something similar, or join in – which, on many occasions, I was instructed to do.”

At no point was she asked for ID, or had any requirement or process to verify her age, meaning there was not one obstruction to her gaining access to any of these rooms at any point.

The Sex Industry, Cyber Brothels and the Metaverse

Metaverse and cyber brothels are also a growing trend. The world’s first cyber brothel recently collaborated with porn studio BaDoinkVR to offer a free VR cyber sex experience. They combine the use of virtual reality headsets and sex dolls to make a user feel like they are actually in an intimate situation. The cyber brothel claims to have seen a surge in clientele during the pandemic.

A representative from Kokeshi Cybrothel Berlin told The Sun, “what better place to try out new kinks, fantasies and constellations than our shame free cyber brothel.”

In another article, Daniel Golden, vice president of adult site DreamCam, told The Sun, “I think the metaverse could change the sex industry and the sex industry could change the metaverse. The sex industry has been driving technological innovations for years, since VHS tapes, and I think the expanding technology and room for fantasy in the metaverse will provide a great environment for not just Dreamcam users but sexually curious individuals to try new things.”

But with no age verification and little to no moderation, these “curious individuals” can and will include children.

In a Meta-owned app, Allen and a seven-year-old girl were surrounded by a group of men who joked about raping them. Allen said she had to step in between the men and the child to protect her.

Is the Metaverse the Future of the Internet?

Mark Zuckerberg recently said he thinks people will one day spend most of their time in the metaverse. For those unfamiliar with it, the metaverse refers to a shared virtual world that people can access through the internet that can be made more lifelike through the use of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR). Zuckerberg believes this is the future of the internet… and human interaction.

Facebook even recently rebranded as “Meta” and invested billions of dollars in developing its Oculus Quest headset, now rebranded as Meta Quest.

It was one of these headsets which a BBC News researcher used to explore part of the metaverse through an app called VRChat – an online virtual platform which users can explore with 3D avatars.

While the app is not made by Facebook, it can be downloaded with a Facebook account from the app store on Facebook’s Meta Quest headset, with no age verification checks. While the minimum age requirement for a Facebook account is 13 years old, there is no means of verifying age when a user creates an account.

As shown by the BBC investigation, there are virtually no protections for children who access the metaverse.

RELATED: Child Sexual Abuse Material, “Child Porn,” Has Reached Crisis Levels

Inside VRChat, there are rooms where users can meet: some are innocent and everyday – such as a McDonald’s restaurant, for example – but there are also strip clubs with pole-dancing, sex toys and various sex acts taking place in every corner of the room.

In the metaverse, there is no differentiation between children and adults as they mix freely in the various rooms.

Sherwood used VRChat to visit virtual-reality rooms where avatars were simulating sex. She was shown sex toys and condoms, and approached by numerous adult men.

She stated, “VRChat definitely felt more like an adult’s playground than a child’s.

Additionally, there is little to no moderation in the metaverse.

The Metaverse Lacks Moderation, Creates Perfect Opportunity to Expose Kids to Porn and Abuse

Catherine Allen, head of UK-based research organization and consultancy, Limina Immersive, is currently writing a report about VR for the Institute of Engineering and Technology. She told the BBC that her research team has found many of their experiences in VR “quite traumatic and disturbing.”

In a Meta-owned app, Allen and a seven-year-old girl were surrounded by a group of men who joked about raping them. Allen said she had to step in between the men and the child to protect her.

RELATED: Is There a Connection Between Porn and Rape?

She shared, “I shouldn’t have had to do that, but that’s because there’s no moderation, or apparently very little moderation.”

BBC News also spoke to a safety campaigner who has spent months investigating VRChat and now posts his videos on YouTube. He shared that “because VR is so immersive, children actually have to act out sexual movements.

He also encountered children “who say they were groomed on the platform and forced to take part in virtual sex.”

In fact, most of the top virtual reality websites are actually porn sites. But, this probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about the metaverse.

Consistent with the current porn industry, the metaverse is equally ,if not more, toxic, predatory and harmful – especially to children.

VR Porn is on the Rise

A recent study conducted by virtual sex company Dreamcam found that over 83% of 3,000 VR headset users from the UK and US had watched VR porn. The study also revealed that virtual reality porn use is on the rise and the number of female VR porn users has almost tripled from 2019 to 2021.

The study also found that of the 3,000 interviewees, 71% of men interviewed originally bought a VR headset to watch porn, compared to only 9% of women.

According to Juniper Research, the global value of the VR adult content market is said to be around $716 million in 2021 and is predicted to rise to around $19 billion by 2026.

A lot of the rooms were overtly sexualised in pink neon, similar to what you might see in the red light district in Amsterdam or in the more seedy parts of London’s Soho at night. Inside, sex toys were on display.

Despite its current popuarlity, Kokeshi Cybrothel Berlin still isn’t sure whether cyber brothels will be the future of the sex industry. The representative however, believes that the company is “certainly setting a new standard of interactive sexual and sensual experiences within the sex tech space.”

Golden believes that the potential for the sex industry through the metaverse is immense, going so far as to state that sex “may turn out to be equally as enjoyable,” through things like synchronizing sex toys and “high-definition detail video quality so clear it feels like you are actually in the room with the model, add in all these sex toys and a little wine and it may as well be the same thing!”

This should be incredibly alarming for parents as children have increasing access to the internet. Even for the most vigilant of parents, their child may have friends who have access to the metaverse through VR and AR technology and will “play” for many hours in this virtual space.

Even if a child doesn’t intend to use the technology to find porn, strip clubs and brothels, all it takes is one wrong move.

The Metaverse is in Desperate Need of Age Verification

The internet is a case study for what happens when technology and commercial sex grow without regulation. With millions of porn sites, the average age of exposure to porn is now 11—about the age kids first get a cell phone—and most kids are stumbling across porn unintentionally. The violent and degrading sexual content children are consuming every day is derailing the lives and futures of millions of children. The metaverse will only pour fuel on this blazing fire and society must take decisive action.

RELATED: Age Verification Is the Most Effective Way to Protect Children from Porn

It is imperative that Big Tech, especially Meta and Facebook, be required to set regulations within the metaverse, such as age and identity verification, in order to protect children from the vile, disturbing and traumatic experiences currently available to them.

In our Protect Children Not Porn campaign we have been pushing for age verification with a government ID on all sites hosting pornographic content. Such legislation could be very easily applied to the metaverse, thereby protecting children from all image-based sexual content. Join us in advocating for age verification on porn sites by signing our petition here.

We are actively campaigning to protect children from underage pornography exposure but we need your help. To partner with us in this cause, sign our petition above and donate here.

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