General

Roblox reacts to the hack that allowed an avatar of a child to be raped within its game

There’s a special place in Hell for people who think it’s funny to rape a 7-year-old girl’s avatar in an online virtual world designed for children. Yes, that happened. Roblox, a hugely popular online game for kids, was hacked by an individual who subverted the game’s protection systems to have customized animations appear. This allowed two male avatars to gang rape a young girl’s avatar on a playground in one of the Roblox exploit games.

The victim and the community have been offered an apology by the company. It also stated that it had determined how the hacker infiltrated its system and can prevent similar incidents from happening again.

The incident occurred while the mother of the child, who was also the victim of in-game sexual assaults, was nearby. The mother claims that her child showed her the screen, and she removed the device. Fortunately, her daughter was able to see most of it. To warn others, the mother took screenshots of the events.

In a public post, she described the incident. It read in part:

It was shocking at first. My innocent and sweet daughter was seeing her avatar being VIOLENTLY GANGRAPED ON A PLAYGROUND BY TWO MEN. After the act was over, a female observer approached the two males and began to jump on my daughter’s body. My daughter was left with her avatar in the middle the playground, while the three characters fled.

The shock, disgust, guilt, and shame that I feel right now cannot be described in words. However, I’m trying my best to ignore these feelings so that others can hear this warning as soon as possible. I was able take screenshots of the horrific experience so that others can see it. Screenshots are available in the comments. Although I was able to protect my daughter from the whole thing, I shudder to think about the psychological damage that this image could cause to her mind and any other children who might be exposed to it.

Roblox has stated the attack since then:

Roblox’s mission to incite imagination is our responsibility. We must provide a civil and safe platform for play. We have strong systems in place to ensure safety for our users and platform. Safety is our number one priority. We have both automated technology that tracks and monitors all communication between players and a large team moderators who work round the clock to review any content and investigate any inappropriate activities. To empower parents to provide the best possible experience for their children, we offer parental controls and individual users the option to block other players.

One bad actor was responsible for the incident. He was able subvert our security systems and exploit one instance a game that was running on one server. This behavior is unacceptable and we immediately took steps to find the culprit and set up safeguards to prevent it happening again. The offender was also identified and removed from the platform permanently. Safety is our constant work and we will make sure that no one gets in the way for the millions of Roblox children who visit Roblox every day to create, play, and imagine.

This is a significant moment for the children’s gaming platform. It has over 60 million monthly active users. The company is currently raising $150 million to expand its business. While the company has been quietly building its virtual worlds for many years, it has been under the radar. Roblox recently announced that it will pay its content creators $70million in 2018. This is twice the amount of 2017.

Roblox offers a variety of controls that protect against bad behavior. These include a content filter, a system where moderators review images, videos, and audio files before they are uploaded to Roblox’s website. Parents can also set up parental controls to control who can chat with their children, and how they can turn off chat. Parents can also restrict children under 13 years old from accessing any other games than a selected list.

Roblox was moving older user-generated Roblox games to a more secure system. One of many games that could have been exploited similarly was the hacked one.

Roblox asked its developers to remove any other potentially vulnerable games from the site and to ask their creators for permission to transfer them to the safer, more secure system. Most of them have done this, and those who didn’t will be able to have their games back online until they do. The games online are not susceptible to the exploit used by the hacker.

The company quickly reacted to the situation by banning the player, taking the game offline, and reaching out to the mother. Roblox has since agreed that Roblox will help spread the word about the safety measures parents can take to protect their children in Roblox.

However, the incident raises concerns about whether children should be playing massively multiplayer games at this young age.

Roblox is not surprised that someone was looking for a hack such as this, unfortunately.

YouTube is full of videos showing Roblox rape exploits and hacks. YouTube does not respond to all requests for a takedown. YouTube has its content moderation issues.

When children are the victims of in-game assaults, it’s past time that there were real-world consequences.

Roblox is involved in discussions on what can be done. However, the issue is complex. Roblox cannot collect data from its users using COPPA laws, as the law is intended to protect children’s privacy. Roblox cannot track down hackers like these.

“I believe that we are not the only ones pondering these challenges. Tami Bhaumik (head of marketing and community safety at Roblox) says, “I think that every platform company out there struggles with the same thing.”

She continues, “We are members of the Family Online Safety Institute which is over 30 businesses that share best practices around digital citizenry and child safety.” This is a topic that everyone has a conversation about – how to use technology and how to use A.I. Machine learning? Are we willing to work with credit card companies to verify [users] Bhaumik explains, “How can we avoid violating COPPA regulations?”

She adds that the problem is complex and she doesn’t believe anyone has yet solved it.

One option is for parents to force their children to register and then add a credit card. This would not be charged unless the kids violated the rules.

This could reduce user growth in some ways — it would lock out those who are under-banked, those who hesitate to use credit cards online, and those who are distrustful about gaming companies and unwelcome charges. This would prevent kids from downloading the app and playing.

Roblox can control the game’s momentum and scale. Roblox has enough users that it could put up a barrier to entry to protect them. It would be less appealing to break the rules if players knew that they would be fined or their parents would be.

About Regina Kim

She came to be in the converting of the tide on a far off Scottish Isle and grew up with gypsies, learning how to yodel at the moon. She kept this tropical isle for your bright lights of Paris, in which she wrote remarkable novels in between producing coffee confections for stressful French clients.
View all posts by Regina Kim →

Leave a Reply