A North Carolina woman was horrified when her 7-year-old daughter showed her disturbing graphic imagery while playing a user-created game on “Roblox.”
Amber Peterson explained in a public Facebook post that her daughter showed her a scene of her “Roblox” avatar being “violently gang-raped on a playground by two male [avatars].”
“Words cannot describe the shock, disgust, and guilt that I am feeling right now, but I’’m trying to put those feelings aside so I can get this warning out to others as soon as possible,” Peterson wrote on June 28. “Thankfully, I was able to take screenshots of what I was witnessing so people will realize just how horrific this experience was. … Although I was immediately able to shield my daughter from seeing the entire interaction, I am shuddering to think of what kind of damage this image could have on her psyche, as well as any other child that could potentially be exposed to this.”
Peterson then posted screenshots for other concerned parents.
“Roblox” is a popular game-creation platform, which hosts more than 50 million users a month. Similar to “Minecraft,” players can create their own worlds and games using “Roblox” assets. However, because of the user-generated nature of the games, content inappropriate for children could easily be seen by young players. This is acknowledged, for example, in the Entertainment Software Rating Boardrating for the Xbox One version of “Roblox,” which received an “E for Everyone 10+” rating, but also notes “possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content, including user-to-user interactions and media sharing via social media and networks.”
Peterson noted that she and her husband had taken security measures to prevent their daughter from seeing age-inappropriate content.
“Roblox also has security settings that allow the parent to block outside conversations and invitations,” Peterson said. “There are also 24-hour moderators that are hired to block any potentially inappropriate content. When my husband and I decided to allow our daughter to play this game, we adjusted the security settings to maximum privacy.”
While there are moderators policing the content, it seems inevitable that some disturbing content will make its way through to children, the most popular playerbase of “Roblox.” The amount of content generated is quite massive. In 2017 alone, 11 million titles were published and “more than 1,500 [generated over] 1 million visits during the year,” according to a press release from the company.
“We were outraged to learn that Roblox’s community policies and Rules of Conduct were subverted,” a Roblox Corporation spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “We have identified how this bad actor created the offending action and are putting additional safeguards in place to reduce the possibility of this happening again in the future. In addition, the offender was identified and has been permanently banned from the platform and we have suspended the game. We have zero tolerance for this behavior. Our work to ensure a safe platform is always evolving and remains a top priority for us.”