Raising Standards for User Safety: How Roblox Creates a Challenge for Social Media Platforms

With tech companies increasingly under scrutiny for privacy violations and inappropriate content, one gaming company has been lauded by several of its peers for its ability to develop a child appropriate and seemingly safe game. Roblox, an online game platform, has shown increased attention and care for the safety of the game’s youngest users while simultaneously evolving its app to keep up with older audiences.

Immensely popular with children for years, Roblox’s recent customer patterns show that, the game has expanded beyond their young customer base and attracted the attention of some older users, specifically young adults. During a speech by CEO Dave Baszucki, a large number of young adults were spotted in an audience that historically would have been only children. In a time when the Senate subcommittee is focusing on a whistleblower’s concern that Instagram is harming teenagers, Roblox has grown and expanded its customer base by actively seeking out older users. While mixing younger and older audiences poses a significant challenge, Baszucki has assured the public that additional safeguards are being put in place to prevent dangerous behavior in the Roblox universe.

The industry is taking account of Roblox’s efforts as well. Titania Jordan, the chief executive of Bark, an AI company, has come out in support of Roblox. While acknowledging that some poor behavior by the users has managed to slip through the cracks, Jordan stated that Roblox is doing commendable work, especially when compared to other social media platforms. For its part, Roblox has acknowledged bad user behavior on its platform and is actively looking into methods to curb third-party chat apps that are the conduit for some dangerous behavior.

It is safe to say that Roblox has gone beyond the ordinary duty and standard of and has raised the standard for other tech companies. The duty of care of any company is measured by what another prudent corporation would do in similar circumstances. Roblox has dedicated a large part of their design to deal with illicit material. It has incorporated parental controls that children cannot disable, updated its community standards to ban terrorist groups from recruiting and fundraising through the game, banned discussions of political parties and romance, and requires users to upload a government-issued ID with a selfie in order to confirm their age.

Even with these security measures, there have been instances where Roblox users have been caught engaging in graphic sexual acts, profanity or recreating mass shootings. This exposes a risk to other gaming and internet companies as well, as it shows that even with the increased precautions taken by Roblox, things do slip through the cracks. It also means that the precautions taken by Roblox may become the bare minimum acceptable standard – raising the duty of care standard for other tech companies.

Despite these stumbling blocks, Roblox’s actively seeking out and adding older users to the mix will create safety challenges. This is especially true when it comes to protecting its youngest users from predators and exposure to cybersex or violent acts. While Baszucki has acknowledged this difficulty and has proposed new plans in response, only time will tell whether these measures will suffice. Meanwhile, Roblox shows other tech companies a road map to a greater duty of care, a standard that might end up being forced on them.