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Mark Zuckerberg wants to let teens into the metaverse—2 U.S senators say that’s a huge mistake

Two U.S. senators are less than impressed with Meta’s reported plans to open up its Horizon Worlds metaverse platform to users as young as 13 — so, they’re urging Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider.

Over the weekend, Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) published excerpts from a letter they sent to Zuckerberg. In those excerpts, they accused Meta of trying to “target young people” specifically to “maximize profit,” noting the company’s struggles to attract users to its flagship metaverse product, Horizon Worlds.

“With a documented track record of failure to protect children and teens, Meta has lost parents’, pediatricians’, policymakers’, and the public’s trust,” Markey and Blumenthal wrote, adding: “Your plans to imminently pull these young people into an under-researched, potentially dangerous virtual realm with consequences for their physical and mental health is unacceptable.”

The politicians were responding to a recently leaked internal Meta memo, reported on by The Wall Street Journal in February, which outlined plans to open access to Horizon Worlds to users between the ages of 13 and 17 as early as this month.

Horizon Worlds is an app where users can build and explore virtual worlds while playing games and interacting with other users. It’s accessible with an Oculus Quest virtual reality headset, and only accessible to users over the age of 18 — but the internal memo reportedly noted that Horizon Worlds could only succeed with the support of younger users.

Meta declined to comment on the senators’ letter, pointing instead to a statement to the Journal last month, which said bringing younger users onto Horizon Worlds would come with “age-appropriate tools and protections.”

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