Roblox now has 150 MILLION active users yet their record on dealing with grooming and child protection is atrocious

Since we posted the article below Roblox have now revealed that they have over 150 MILLION active users worldwide. An increase of 35 million since the Covid lockdowns started earlier this year. A sizeable percentage of those players also spend money to buy in-game currency and items with some developers seeing their 2020 revenues already reaching levels that have doubled their entire earnings for 2019.

Suffice to say it’s a platform that is making a lot of money and that makes the comments in our earlier story even more anger inducing. Safety should be at the forefront of the game and the fact that they are making this much money and have done nothing in years to improve parental control and visibility in the game is damning.

Previously posted on 23rd July.

Roblox has long been a game seen as an introduction for children into online gaming and even game creation through its impressive set of tools and development platform – so the fact that now half of American children are said to be playing the game isn’t surprising.

However Roblox isn’t particularly child safe. While they have various rules in place about what can be said with strict censorship for younger players Roblox has a history of not being able to deal with grooming issues on the platform.

It has been used by predators to talk to young children via the private chat system, it has been the subject of reports of gamers that have attempted to depict gang rape. While the platform is aimed at children under 16 there is nothing to stop much older people playing – and many do. There are many YouTube players in their twenties openly playing the game with kids as young as five.

There is no restriction on the games on there with many involving quite gruesome activities including murder which is completely at odds with their supposed strict controls over chat.

We have first hand experience of attempting to engage with Roblox over a potential child grooming issue that ended up in an account being hacked. The person in question is still active on the platform despite being reported and Roblox initial response was to disable the account of the child targeted before anything could be reviewed from their chat history with this person.

In our case it has taken a month to get the account unlocked and yet nothing has been done to address the concerns over the player in question. Repeated attempts to raise the issue result in their support automate messages responding with information on how to report players through the moderation system – which has already been done – and all replies have been addressed to the child rather than the parent making the request.

While Roblox are keen to stress their child safety measures, in practice they are inadequate and Roblox inability to quickly address parents concerns when approached about specific events is both unacceptable and dangerous. A company and platform that targets children directly has a responsibility to provide robust tools to ensure parents are able raise their concerns in such a way that they can be addressed within hours, not days, weeks or months.

Unless Roblox are able implement proper controls for parents that include communication directly with parents, properly addressed and without the use of automated/boilerplate responses which are wholly inadequate it should be treated with extreme scepticism by parents.

Colin Polonowski Colin Polonowski

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

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Roblox now has 150 MILLION active users yet their record on dealing with grooming and child protection is atrocious | The Digital Fix