Horrified parents share sick messages on popular kids iPad app.
Roblox is under the spotlight yet again after an online predator approached a 12-year-old Adelaide girl and sent her explicit messages.
Mandy Newcombe told 9 news her daughter called her in tears after a user on the game Roblox threatened to track her down, take off her clothes and tape her to the bed.
Ms Newcombe said Roblox didn’t appear to be taking the safety of children seriously enough and that the predator who approached her daughter was still actively using the game despite her making multiple complaints to the platform.
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The Adelaide mother said Holly had been playing the popular game for a few months before she was approached by the predator in December last year.
“I wasn’t actually home at the time. Luckily my daughter was smart enough to screenshot everything he wrote to her,” Ms Newcombe said.
The screenshots show the predator, operating under the name HotDogNick123, calling Holly a “ho” who “wants to get all the bois (sic)”.
Holly tries to brush the predator off, but the messages get more explicit with the user appearing to deliberately misspell words in a bid to thwart the game’s obscenity filters.
“You’re a pre-teen?” he asks. “Well, Ima stick my deeq up your pss”.
Things take another sinister turn when the predator tells Holly that he has an app that can track down where she lives via her wifi.
“Ima take your cloths out. Then Ima tape you to the bed,” he writes, before making even more explicit threats.
“Do you know what a child predator is?” the user then asks.
The user has now been permanently banned after nine.com.au contacted Roblox.
“It was really quite threatening. She rang me in tears. I said don’t worry, I’ll be there in five minutes,” Ms Newcombe said.
“I don’t think she understood all of what he was saying. Some of it I didn’t actually understand. I had to Google it and it made me feel sick.”
When she got home Ms Newcombe and her daughter immediately contacted Roblox via a “report abuse” button, but the mother said she waited months without even a response from the platform.
Growing frustrated, Ms Newcombe emailed Roblox’s customer support team directly in February.
“They emailed backed said we take this very seriously. Thank you for your diligence, but then I found out from my daughter that he is still using Roblox under the same username,” she said.
“Clearly they don’t take it seriously and it makes me really angry,” she said.
“I would hate to think what could happen if he is approaching girls who are even younger. He could do some damage.”
After being contacted by nine.com.au, Roblox conducted a review of the incident and acknowledged they “should have done more”.
“Providing a safe environment for our users is our utmost priority at Roblox. We take every report of behavior that violates our Rules of Conduct seriously,” a spokesperson for Roblox said.
“We reviewed this incident and issued a temporary ban on the player in question. Through further examination, we believe we should have done more.
“Since then, we have permanently banned the player in question and we are evaluating our moderation process and actions going forward to ensure the safety of our users.”
Ms Newcombe said she considered deleting the game after the incident but decided to let her daughter keep playing.
“I did at one point say we should delete it. But she said, ‘mum I really love the game, you can trust me’ and I do trust my daughter,” she said.
“Both of my children were taught from a young age that people aren’t always who they say they are online and that there are sexual predators, pedophiles who can pose as a child so if you see anything that’s out of line you need to let me know. Which is what she did.”
If parents suspected their child had been targeted by a predator, Superintendent Crossling said they should first take screenshots or photos of the chat and the user’s profile before blocking them.
Parents should then report the user to the platform and police, she said.
Previous reports from other families
We shared the original story in February 2017 of a UK father who found sickening messages from a paedophile on his eight-year-old sons iPad game. Read more below from other parents who recently discovered similar sick messages.
Within 15 minutes of playing Roblox, Ian Morrison, 33, was told he was “sexy” and “cute” shared The Sun.
The father decided to check out the game, after reading a worrying article about it online.
Iain, from East Yorks, believes the game, which is aimed at children aged between eight and 12, is being used by adults looking to meet up with vulnerable youngsters.
He said: “I just had it in my head that I needed to ask the boys if they were playing on this Roblox game after reading about it online.
“They said they had it so I’ve said let me have a look at it.
“From the outlook it looks completely fine, you can go into different rooms and in the first room I wasn’t sent anything untoward.
“Then I went in this waterslide room with a pool and immediately was propositioned.
“They said ‘hi’ so I said ‘hi’ and they asked if I was a boy or girl and my age so I said I was an eight-year-old boy.
“They asked me to follow them to their house, then into the bedroom and asked me to lay down on top of them and then they started with the sexual movements.
“They said ‘you look cute’ and ‘you look sexy’.
“It was just sickening reading all the comments pop up. My kids were completely oblivious as to what the words and stuff meant.”
Iain has now deleted the app from his 11 and eight-year-old son’s iPad and has urged others to do the same.
But his post has been met with mixed reactions and some have accused him of scaremongering.
Iain, said: “I can imagine if I didn’t watch and they kept going back to the same rooms and chatting to the same people it could be so easy for them to take it further.
“I, 110 per cent, think it would be so easy for these people to use the game to groom kids.
“It made my guts turn. They were talking in code but it was as clear as day to see.
“This is something I’ve seen with my own eyes. It’s literally turned my stomach.
“I spoke to more than one of the weirdos within 15 minutes, if there’s one or fifty on there I couldn’t care less, that’s one too many.
“There is nothing to stop adults going on there and pretending they’re kids.
“The problem is my children have easily downloaded it and so I just wonder how many more kids there are out there playing it with their parents unaware.”
How predators groom young children
Pia Marshall previously shared, “Online predators frequent chat rooms and online video games, posing their profile as a young boy or girl.
Grooming a child online, is similar to that of grooming a child offline. ‘Grooming is the predatory act of maneuvering another individual into a position that makes them more isolated, dependent, likely to trust and more vulnerable to abusive behaviour.’
It starts with the predator striking up a conversation. They then begin to show an interest in your child and form some sort of ‘friendship’ with them.
Worst case scenario, your son or daughter organises to meet their ‘new’ friend, putting themselves in potential danger.”
UPDATE 4 July
With more cases of children being contacted by strangers a spokesperson for Roblox told the Plymouth Herald:
‘The safety of our community is a top priority and we’re constantly assessing and improving our trust and safety measures.
‘There are several safeguards in place to protect our users that utilize current technology and human oversight.
‘We have instituted a best-of-breed, third-party software system created specifically to find offensive language and flag it.
‘For users that are under the age of 13, these filters are set to block any sharing of personal identifiable information. We continually fine tune this software to detect and block new and creative ways to message inappropriately.
‘We also scan the site multiple times daily to ensure that none of our users are having inappropriate web technologies used to track or identify them.
The spokesperson added:
‘All accounts for users that are under the age of 13 are set to only communicate with friends. Only friends in the approved friend’s list can personal message, invite another user into games, or to join a VIP server.’
UPDATE 18 October
More young children have been targeted through the chat feature!
A Sydney mother was left reeling in shock and disgust after a sex predator sent vile messages to her 10-year-old daughter while she was playing a popular online game.
Shannon Mitchell is one of two Australian parents who told Nine.com.au that their children have been targeted by pedophiles while playing the game.
Mrs Mitchell said her daughter had been playing the game on her iPad and using the chat feature in a seemingly harmless way to talk to her school friends.
But Ms Mitchell said the alarm was raised when her daughter began saying vulgar things to her which she obviously had no understanding of.
“It was things like, ‘I want to put my penis in your vagina. I want to lick your p—-y. I want to sleep with you’,” she said.
“She started coming out with all of this stuff. I was in a state of shock that these comments were coming out of the mouth of an innocent 10-year-old girl,” Ms Mitchell said.
“I said to her, ‘where are you getting this from?After a while she admitted to me it was Roblox.”
Jumping onto her daughter’s iPad and opening up the game, Ms Mitchell said she immediately saw the messages ticking over in the left hand corner of the screen.
Ms Mitchell said her daughter had already told the person chatting to her she was 10 years old and they continued to send the explicit messages.
“I was in a state. I was just absolutely lost for words and actually in tears by the afternoon because I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
“It just blew my mind. I know these grubs are out there but you just don’t think it’s going to happen to your child.”
Another Australian mother, Kayla Bailey from Perth, said her nine-year-old daughter was also targeted on the game, which she described as a “paedophile’s gateway”.
Ms Bailey said she often spot checked her daughter while she used the iPad and one night while she was playing Roblox she was stunned by what she saw.
“There were a lot of innocent chats obviously with other kids but one conversation shook me,” she said.
“Someone had said, ‘where were you all weekend?’ And she said, ‘I told you I was at my dad’s house’. And he said, ‘I bet you weren’t and were up all night sucking d—‘. She said, ‘No I was at my dad’s!’
Roblox spokesperson, Brian Jaquet, told nine.com.au community safety was the company’s “top priority” and there were safeguards in place to help parents protect their children from unwanted interactions.
The safeguards included parental controls to allow parents to shut-off chat capability, age “visibility” so that parents could easily determine that the settings for their kids are age appropriate, and more stringent chat controls for under-13s restricting a greater range of words.
Do your children play this game or any other games with a chat function? Will you be monitoring extra closely now?
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