Content note: This story contains discussions of children being propositioned for sexual actions and receiving sexual messages.
Multiple families have filed a class action lawsuit against Roblox Corp., alleging the Roblox game (among other things) contains sexual content harmful to young players. That suit was first filed in August and recently amended in October in the San Diego Superior Court.
The suit claims children using the popular platform encountered player avatars that were nude or doing in-game actions mimicking sexual intercourse. These plaintiffs recalled instances of their kids (ages ranging from seven to 12 years old) getting messages from other players asking to perform sexual acts or linking to pornography sites.
Social platforms like Roblox and Discord have previously come under fire for not having proper ways to protect younger players from online exploitation. Notably, this is the second class action suit for Roblox Corp after allegations of child gambling from this past August.
"Roblox advertises its product as ‘family friendly’ despite rampant inappropriate and predatory conduct," reads the complaint. "Roblox tells parents: “If your child is under 13, we make it extremely difficult for strangers on Roblox to contact them.” That is untrue."
Safeguards meant to protect younger Roblox players are turned off by default, the complaint continues, and the material encountered on the platform can be "far more harmful" than what's seen on TikTok. Both platforms rose in prominence for all users (particularly young ones) in recent years.
"[Roblox's] popularity skyrocketed during the pandemic, when parents were desperately seeking social interaction for their children," noted Walsh Law founder Alexandra Walsh. "But [it] has overstayed its welcome in spaces designed for kids.”
Parents are taking Roblox to task for alleged years-long problems
Along with the reported housing of sexual content, the parents are suing Roblox Corp. for falsely advertising its game as a safe space for kids. In turn, parents unaware of Roblox's issues are spurred to spend money on the platform, or allow their children to make purchases themselves.
Such issues have hung over other popular online games like Fortnite in the past. Roblox's situation is further complicated by recent claims that Roblox Corp. was intentionally underpaying young players who were developing content inside the platform due to a low conversion rate of in-game currency to real-world money.
This new suit claims Roblox obscures the real price of in-app purchases so parents can't easily monitor those transactions and their worth. Plaintiffs and "many more" parents across the United States were tricked into spending money on the platform because of the company's "bold and inaccurate" statements on player safety.
In a statement provided to PCGamer, Roblox Corp said it disputes all allegations and would respond properly in court.
"Roblox is committed to providing a positive and safe experience for people of all ages," it wrote. "We act swiftly to block inappropriate content or behavior when detected, including sexual content which violates our Community Standards."