After introducing mini-games and allowing access to younger teens, Meta is trying to make its VR-based Horizon Worlds more social. In its latest update, the company released a new feature called world chat that lets users send messages to anyone else in the same world session. At the same time, it's promising strict security controls for the new feature.
A voice chat feature is already available, but this works much like a regular text messaging app. A screen shot (below) shows a classic group texting interface, with multiple users participating. Messages directed at specific people appear in their own view as a floating bubble, and when clicked, open up a new chat.
People can connect with or follow others participating in a chat by clicking the individual's name to view their profile and inviting them to connect, Meta said. You'll be able to @mention others in world chat, provided they're in the same world. It offers ease-of-use tools like quick replies so you can connect without the need to type long messages.
Along with world chat, Facebook introduced tools to "help create a positive community experience," it said. To start with, it automatically scans and deletes messages that go against its code of conduct. It allows users to blur chats so that messages from people they don't know will be blurred, and their own chats will appear blurred to others. Users can report, block or mute anyone, and minimize or hide the chat window.
The blur setting is automatically enabled for teens aged 13-17. Meta is also expanding parental supervision tools to allow users to ensure that their kids "have an age-appropriate chat experience by changing or locking the blurred chat settings," it wrote.
Earlier this year, US senators urged Meta not to open Horizon Worlds up to younger teens, citing the company's record of failure to protect them. That concern appeared to be justified following recent report of widespread CSAM on Instagram. Meta did it anyway, though, promising to put in place age-appropriate tools and protections. "We have to build experiences which are tailored to the unique vulnerabilities of teens," the company said at the time. Meta recently unveiled the Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset, just a week before Apple launch its own much-anticipated model, the Vision Pro.