Oct 7, 2021 - Technology

Roblox bans romance, politics


Photo: SOPA Images / Getty

Popular gaming platform Roblox has issued revised community standards, which, if enforced, would crack down on a wide range of activities, including depictions of weddings and just about anything tied to modern elections and politicians.

Why it matters: Roblox boasts some 40 million daily users, many of them kids, and has faced increased scrutiny about the content that its users are exposed to.

  • Bear in mind: Roblox isn’t a traditional video game that you buy and play. It’s a free application on phones, computers and consoles that lets any user create interactive games and experiences for others to play.

The details: The company’s community standards were revised this week and detail many policies that weren’t in the version that was updated in July.

  • An old ban on using Roblox for dating has been expanded to “prohibit content that seeks or portrays romantic relationships,” including weddings, honeymoons and romantic animations of kissing or hand-holding.
  • A new section bars “discussion or depiction” of political parties, sitting elected officials, “previously-elected officials in their official capacity” and slogans tied to any current political races.
  • The new policies also explicitly ban recruitment into and fundraising for terrorist or extremist groups.

What they're saying: A Roblox rep told Axios that the new political limits were issued because "we found that political content can lead to divisiveness."

  • On the handholding ban: "While some of this activity may seem harmless on its face, we're acutely aware that we have a responsibility to take special care to keep safe the millions of kids and teens who use and love Roblox."

The big picture: The detailed update appears to be designed to promote Roblox as a safe, child-friendly space, setting up clearer justifications for cracking down on content that ranges from harmful to controversial.

  • Roblox’s intent is signaled with the elevation of its previously existing child endangerment policy to the top of the revised standards.
  • But the platform also simply hasn’t always been active in banning content that violates its rules. Fan-made games based on existing, famous games haven’t been hard to find, for example, despite longstanding bans on creating things based on existing intellectual property.
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