Bloomberg ran an op-ed last month about the problems confounding Meta’s virtual world. Chiefly, women being groped by strangers and at least one person who was virtually gang-raped by 60 other users.
Rape, virtual or otherwise, is a crime, and people who would commit a crime in virtual reality could well be counted on to do it in the real world. And I will not discount the issue of sexual harassment. Juvenile males pretending to be men demean women and make actual men look bad. But Zuckerberg and company have other sinister problems that are not just looming on the horizon, but making themselves right at home in this wondrous metaverse in which Zuck and his cohorts want us to immerse ourselves.
On March 10, police in Cheyenne, Wyo., located a missing 13-year-old girl from Roosevelt, Utah, in the back of a white bobtail semi-truck being driven by one Chris Evans, age 25, of Florida. One does not keep a “date” in the back of a semi-trailer, and one can only guess what was in store for the child. And each of those possibilities is more horrific than the one before it. Physically, the child appeared to be unharmed. But at present, we do not know what was done to her in captivity, and there is no way to quantify the emotional and psychological impact of what was done to her. We do know that someone, possibly another man from another state, contacted the child through a game on the Meta program Oculus. It may actually be one of the first such cases in the nation.
On the morning of her disappearance, the perpetrator allegedly left a message stating simply, “I am waiting.”
This is no indictment of the child’s parents. By all indications, they had taken steps to limit her online presence and did not allow her to be involved in social media. But the monsters found her, nonetheless. Not that you should not take all the safety steps you can to shield your child from the dangers of the virtual world, but the demons out there are legion, patient and tech-savvy. And by all lights, this child was not left to wander the wilds of the internet on her own.
You can watch the news story from Salt Lake’s Fox affiliate below.
And so, the latest technological leap delivered by the hands of our intellectual betters almost claims its first victim.
As Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Cheers to the Roosevelt, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.,, police departments, the Uintah County Sheriff’s office, the FBI, the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The child is home, and safe.
It bloody well stands to reason that if the great minds at Meta can bring an iron fist down on people with dissenting opinions about COVID-19, Ukraine, election results, and gender, they can damn well worry about real problems, such as children being lured away from their homes by perverts and human traffickers. I have seen the commercials about how Facebook/Meta has been diligent in curbing bad actors. I was not impressed and this incident serves as proof that the tech giants are more concerned with image and money than they are with our communities/ child predators on the various incarnations of the web. Meta should have seen this coming, and probably some of them did.
According to the Bloomberg article, Facebook had wrestled with the problem as far back as 2016. But if Meta can, as it says, predict what I want for dinner, or scold or delete me for an alternative viewpoint, it can certainly find a way to get its backside on that cutting-edge it so proudly wants to occupy and find a way to keep children and women safe. It can if it wants to. It is, of course, a matter of priorities.