Today in why we can’t have nice things: Roblox players were banned after ‘raping’ little girl’s avatar

    
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Please note, this article covers a sensitive subject – please skip it if the title is already crunching up your stomach.

If you’ve got kids, you probably know all about Roblox, a gaming platform that essentially allows players to build their own maps and open them to the public. But with that freedom comes responsibility – and griefers. According to the BBC, earlier this month a couple of Roblox players used their avatars to essentially gang rape the avatar of a 7-year-old girl, backed up by screenshots shared by the mother who saw it happening and took action.

Roblox Corp., for its part, said it had “zero tolerance for this behaviour,” stressing its goal to be a safe platform and banning the “bad actors” involved.

The Roblox subreddit has a couple of discussions on the topic; barring some trolls crying clickbait and false flag (seriously), most people seem a bit embarrassed about the incident as it relies on a known exploit of experimental game mechanics that could conceivably be fixed by developers. In the meantime, parents of kids playing the game should tighten their security settings, as wee tots probably shouldn’t be allowed into experimental mode games where this sort of thing is technically possible.

Worth noting here is that this isn’t a new problem whatsoever. Many of our readers will surely be familiar with Jilian Dibbell’s A Rape in Cyberspace, or How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society article from 1993 based on the early LambdaMOO community’s grapple with this type of griefing.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Source: The BBC. Thanks to everyone who sent this in, I think.
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Kevin McCaughey

Predators will exploit ANY mechanic they can to abuse people. It’s not just kids, though this is surely the worst side of things. I used to be a Support Worker for offenders, many of them paedophiles, for about 8 years. It is my experience that no treatment will change their basic desires and this was (in my experience) the settled view of all their parole officers. With that in mind, I think we need to go down the road of chemical sterilisation. Children’s games was always a favourite pastime of paedophiles, even though many of their (legal) orders were that they were not to fraternise with underage people online.

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Adam Russell

There needs to be a mechanism for getting these psychopaths some kind of forced treatment. Clearly they have something seriously wrong in their heads and that type of thing usually gets worse in time.

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Kevin McCaughey

Treatment has been proved to be totally ineffective by peer-review studies on the subject.

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Bryan Gregory

I’m gonna keep saying it:

Repercussions. Consequences. Punishment. Responsibility. IN REAL LIFE. The internet is not a dream. What you do there doesn’t go away the next day when you wake up. People don’t forget what was done and said to them on the internet the next day. We HAVE to do more than simply ban a perpetrator’s account in extreme cases like this. If we don’t, it’s only going to get worse and moments like this will become more common!

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NeoWolf

People never fail to disappoint me. Rape as a source of entertainment and giggles.. I mean if that is not a huge red flag as to thier being something SERIOUSLY wrong with the mentality of some of todays youth I don’t know what is.

We are getting something seriously wrong and failing these kids in a significant way if we are not properly instilling into our kids from a young age that this is not a subject of amusement nor a word whose meaning should ever be diminished or used in any entertaining context.

This is not a word you make light of, it is not an act you make light of, it is not a topic you make light of.. by doing so you diminish its meaning. And It has a meaning and a serious one at that and not one that should instill anything but horror, disappointment and disgust.

We need to do better by these kids, we need to be accountable, we need to ensure they know the difference between right and wrong and what is acceptable and not when it comes to subjects like this otherwise things like this will just be the tip of the iceberg of much worse to come… first its acceptable in game…and then what acceptable in person?

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Bryan Correll

Sweet Christmas. I’m starting to get nervous about opening up MOP only to find out something else horrible about humanity.

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Cosmic Cleric

It’s like a cornucopia of exploding pandora boxes, and being taken out via the collateral shrapnel damage.

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McGuffn

Except the pandora boxes have rng attached and you have to pay to open them?

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Now this is taking trolling to a new art form, these hackers will just do about anything.

Also, how is a 7 year old able to play Roblox? I thought this game was rated E+ for everyone.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

It has a 7+ PEGI rating in Europe, 10+ in US.

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J

I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this would be accomplished.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

The game creators used an exploit to publish a game as something that was filtered when it really wasn’t. This allowed everybody else who joined to see what was in the game (normally the Filter would prevent it) and also allowed someone under 13 to join the game, as they normally wouldn’t be able to unless it was Filter Enabled.

So they used an exploit to publish their sex game to everybody, and a child joined the room. The child didn’t have any clue what was happening, it was her Mother that was “traumatised and violated”. Not that the child should have been seeing it, it could be akin to showing a little girl porn and forcing her avatar to take part in it.

The room she was in wasn’t that detailed but was still bad enough, most of the avatars still had their clothes on just one had a wiener and they interact with each other as if they’re performing sex acts (there was a sex script there and her avatar was put in a position of performing an oral act on one avatar while another avatar (the one with the wiener) performed one on her avatar from behind).

They *can* make pretty detailed versions of this stuff with the game engine just this one room wasn’t very detailed. Just you’re not supposed to be able to access any non filtered stuff either way if you’re under 13 even if you try to, this stuff was pushed through as Filter Enabled because of aforementioned exploit.

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J

Ok. Gotcha. So its basically Second Life with blocks.

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Brother Maynard

Wait… People actually sent this in as a news tip? This thing that started as an obscure comment in a discussion a week ago?

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Armsbend

Let’s all be honest – if they made an international ban on video games for the rest of time society would be better because of it. There is no question.

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Randy Savage

I’d extend that ban to any platform on the internet that promotes the creation of online personas.

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Adam Russell

I would say a ban on tv would do more good than a ban on games. Lets start there.

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Tandor

Removing anonymity from the internet would be a lot more effective. It’s surprising how well most people behave when they know they are directly and openly accountable for their actions.

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Arsin Halfmoon

I want to see a video of how this happens in Roblox. For research.

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Roger Melly

Yeah that is the question .

I do remember seeing a couple of Gnomes doing as simulated sex act in WoW many years ago . The male Gnome was laying down and the female one was doing her Gnome dance on top of him .

It ended up with quite a lot of onlookers making crude comments but at least they were consenting Gnomes .

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cursedseishi

Having clicked around through the reddit posts as well as the BBC article posted because I was likewise wanting to know just how the f*** it could happen…

I’m none too certain either. What I gathered though is that the game has a dedicated option to either allow or disallow client-side alterations others can freely make. I could have my guy look like the Koolaid Man for instance, and depending on the option toggled either only I’d see it or everyone would. If I wanted said character to increase in size exponentially as it continued? Apparently possible…

The player in the article had joined a room, because I guess Roblox also functions as an ‘engine’ of sorts one can create games in, where said options were either hard-coded in to allow all to see, or the player didn’t have it toggled. I’ve read that there are apparently ways around said toggle. And as part of the… additional features said room had, it included what the article detailed above. I can’t say that they intended to go so far but… well… It’s a goddang kids game, and they knew darn well leaving it open to join anyone would join and most any of said individuals would be well below even the most lenient age limit for such acts.

I’m curious less about how and why it was done, and more so why the company thought such an option shouldn’t be hardcoded in and automatically disabled to avoid such occurrences, which is apparently they are something they are doing NOW well after the fact.