Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

Roblox users recreate mass shootings on online game aimed at children

Roblox, a community-driven game platform, has become a breeding ground for the recreation of mass shootings aimed at young children.

The Verge has reported that recreations of New Zealand's Christchurch mass shooting have been spotted on a number of occasions by Anti-Defamation League researcher Daniel Kelley.

Kelley said he was able to find two separate recreations of the mass shooting within a "brisk 10 minute keyword search.”

Kelley has reportedly found three separate instances of Roblox experiences created using depictions of the Christchurch shootings, since January 2020.

Two of the experiences had reportedly been visited over two hundred times each.

He tweeted: “I swear to God, I would like one time to search for 'Christchurch' on Roblox and not find a new recreation of the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting on a game platform aimed at very young children."

Kelley says that the biggest harm from these experiences is that they normalise these dangerous ideologies.

He told The Verge: “Each game on Roblox is a potentially a social platform in and of itself, and can potentially give refuge to players of all ages who are flirting with or fully engaged with hateful ideologies online.

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“Every space that allows for the veneration of hateful ideologies […] contributes to the normalization of these ideologies and their spread.”

Speaking to the Verge, Roblox said that it proactively monitors the platform for terrorist content and in particular that it is "aggressively monitoring" recreations of mass shootings.

The company also noted the difficulty in blocking references to the Christchurch shooting with automatic test references as this could also block legitimate references to the city with the same name.

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Roblox says that its "proactive detection" includes human review, but evidently there are holes that have allowed these recreations to slip through.

The company has confirmed it has removed the aforementioned experiences from its platform.

A company representative said in a statement: "We promptly removed this experience from Roblox after it was brought to our attention and suspended the user responsible for violating our Community Rules."

The statement went on to restate that Roblox does not tolerate "racism, discriminatory speech, or content related to tragic events.”

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