Cyberbullying in Virtual Reality (VR)
As virtual Reality becomes prevalent in the modern world, there is also increasing possibilities of liability issues and legal consequences associated with it. Among these problems are an injury to property and people immersed in the technology. Cyber-bullying, as an example of the injuries to users, is already pervasive in various social media platforms utilizing VR. The dynamics embedded in virtual reality diminish empathy because of their endless appeal to separateness, which is an aspect that encourages violence in the present world such as cyber-bullying.
Gossiping Promotes Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying potency relies on the remoteness of the abuses as well as on the perceived or actual epistemic quality. In a bid to support the preceding assertion, Bertolotti and Lorenzo (292) aver that ‘gossip’ is the trigger of the bullying phenomenon. Their study explains that gossip involves availing data for individuals who should not have the same information (Bertolotti and Lorenzo 292). The result of gossiping, in this case, is that information is likely to end up in the hands of willing troublemakers, thereby, motivating potentially unwanted violence. Upon reaching a critical state, a gossip through VR platforms like Pokémon GO turns into violent punitive behaviors such as bullying and mobbing.
Data Breaches in VR
VR integrated social media sites store users’ data like names, email addresses, web pages previously visited, and IP addresses that pose significant risks to users in case of hacking or breaching. Abusers can use such information as a basis for bullying. Data breaches can take the form of identity theft where a hacker accesses financial accounts (Frank n.p). Hence, this violates the privacy of the owner. Some players in VR abuse the platform by sending death threats through texts. The players, thus, take advantage of the presence VR provides them by intimidating and using disturbing victimizing antics on other players.
Cat-fishing and Cyber-stalking
Pokémon GO is one of the VR sites susceptible to cyber harassment directed towards its users in the form of Cat-fishing and cyber-stalking. Pokémon GO became a target of cyber-attacks shortly after its release. The site also received threats of more devastating hacks in the future. A real case scenario involved the robbing at gunpoint in Missouri of a dozen users lured to a secluded area (Smith 5). The offenders used the Pokémon GO “beacon” feature to facilitate the crime. Cat-fishing involves stealing of a user’s online identity, mainly through photos to recreate social networking profiles (Smith 5). In this regard, the offender ends up using the information to damage the user’s online reputation. Pokémon GO collects location data by making a comprehensive record of their activities and movements (Smith 5). In case cyber bullies gain access to such information, they can quickly identify the present location of a user or predict a future position. Consequently, they can use the information to harm the user through stalking or theft.
The author recognizes the existence of VR platforms vulnerable to cyber-bullying by using Pokémon GO as an example. Further observed by the author is the relevance of enacting game-play mechanics for establishing punitive measures and precautions to curtail potential damaging conducts within VR. Such measures could include systems that save replays of offensive encounters and enhanced report systems. Besides, the manufacture of VR devices is rising, which demonstrates that VR has the potential to become a compelling revenue generator and marketing tool provided the development of business models aims at monetizing a self-contained virtual world. To ensure that the VR-integrated industry attains remarkable success, the incorporation of cogent security standards and adequate protection rights is vital.
Bertolotti, Tommaso, and Lorenzo Magnani. "A Philosophical and Evolutionary Approach to Cyber-Bullying: Social Networks and the Disruption of Sub-Moralities." Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 15, no. 4, 2013, pp. 285-299. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10676-013-9324-3.
Frank, Allegra. “Online harassment in virtual reality is 'way, way, way worse' — but can devs change that?” 2016. Web: https://www.polygon.com/2016/3/16/11242294/online-harassment-virtual-reality-gdc-2016. Accessed 16 Aug. 2018.
Smith, Reed. "Augmented and Virtual Reality: Emerging Legal Implications of "the Final Platform"." Jd Supra, 2017: 2017-6. Print.