🕹 Roblox Takes On The Trolls
Gaming platform Roblox is suing Benjamin Robert Simon, a YouTube creator more commonly known online as Ruben Sim, for what the company claims was his role in leading a cyber-mob that temporarily shut down Roblox's October developers conference. Lawyers for Roblox say Sim made "terrorist threats" that led to San Francisco police and private security for the event to lockdown the conference and conduct a sweep. The investigation cost Roblox $50,000, and the company is suing the gaming influencer for $1.6 million in damages.
Sim "glamorized" a 2018 shooting at the YouTube headquarters to his followers in the lead-up to Roblox's conference, then said "wait until [someone] does it to Roblox” and tweeted that SFPD were searching for a “notorious Islamic Extremist” at the event, states The Verge. Sim has since deleted several tweets.
According to Polygon, Sim has been banned from the Roblox platform for years following his sexual harassment of other users as well as the use of various racial and homophobic slurs. However, he continues to access the platform via hacking to use other people's accounts.
Echoes Of Gamergate
Roblox had some 32.6 million daily users in 2020—many of whom are children—and the company is worth $45 billion, notes the New York Times. But with that massive success, Roblox (and other gaming platforms, like Twitch) continue to deal with a deeply toxic gaming culture of sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, and other threats against users—particularly women. In 2014, online gamers rallied around the hashtag #GamerGate to conduct a harassment campaign directed at several women in gaming media. The incident has since been regarded as a turning point in the industry.
The gaming industry no doubt has a problem with trolls and toxic behavior. It's very fortunate that no one was hurt during Roblox's October event, but how does the company (and the industry at large) better protect its users? Will a $1.6 million lawsuit set a firmer precedent?