Meta expands on what kind of content is allowed in the virtual worlds people create for Horizon Worlds, the platform that allows people to create VR spaces for shared experiences. The company has added a tag age 18 and over for user-created worlds and has updated its policies to allow creators to include “adult” content that was previously banned altogether. According to UploadVRCreators who published worlds have received an email telling them to manually mark whether their world is mature or safe for all audiences – if they don’t, it will be limited to 18 and above by default.
Based on a Wayback Machine archive from Meta’s Horizon Mature Worlds Policy page from April, this means that Meta now allows content that was previously banned. The page used to say that sexually suggestive content, images of “regulated goods or activities” such as marijuana and alcohol, and graphically violent content were completely banned in Horizon Worlds. Now you may be able to incorporate that sort of thing into your world as long as you mark it as mature.
There are, of course, still limitations. Let’s split those up.
Marking your word as mature allows you to include “sexually suggestive” content, such as “near nudity, depictions of people in implicit or suggestive positions, or an environment focused on activities that are overly suggestive.” However, you can not do pure porn; “nudity, depictions of people in explicit positions, or content or worlds that are sexually provocative or implied” are still prohibited.
The same goes for controlled substances and violence. You can have adult worlds devoted or focused on “the promotion of marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, or age-regulated activities (including gambling),” but you cannot promote “illegal drugs or prescription drug abuse.” And while you can have “intense or extremely violent fictional content” with blood and gore “that may shock or disgust users”, you cannot show real life violence.
You may notice that there are quite a few spots where the lines are blurred. How suggestive is too suggestive when it comes to sex? And in the US, weed is an illegal drug in many places. For a company that sees metaverse moderation as something critical to its success, Meta certainly leaves room for issues that arise for creators looking to push the boundaries.
Meta has had trouble making sure Horizon is a “safe and welcoming environment for everyone,” as the policy page says. It introduced a system that by default prevents other users from getting their avatars too close to yours after complaints that people mimicked sexual harassment during the beta version of the game. It has also introduced a feature that can make people’s voices unintelligible when you’re not friends with them, which can help prevent harassment in virtual public spaces.