The Ministry of National Security of Israel has issued a warning about nationalist attacks targeting Israeli players on the popular online gaming platform Roblox. The ministry received numerous reports of Israeli players being attacked by others in the game, with the attackers sporting uniforms, weapons, and the flags of Palestine and Saudi Arabia. The ministry has urged parents to report offensive content or actors directly to Roblox for removal.
Roblox has a user base of 65 million players, with nearly half of them being 12 years old or younger. This raises concerns about the impact these attacks can have on young players and their understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One parent in an Israeli parents’ group on Facebook shared their child’s experience of witnessing other Roblox users reenacting Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel. This prompted the parent to urge fellow group members to monitor their children’s online activities and impose parental controls on their internet use.
In response to the reports, Roblox stated that while their community standards allow for expressions of solidarity, they do not tolerate content that endorses violence, promotes terrorism or hatred against individuals or groups, or supports a specific political party. They assured users that swift action will be taken against any content or individuals found to be in violation of their standards.
Roblox already has several censorship measures in place, including the restriction of phrases like “Free Palestine,” “Hamas,” and some uses of the word “Jews.” Additionally, discussions about elected officials, political parties, current and former political candidates, and inflammatory content related to real-world border, territorial, or jurisdictional relationships are prohibited.
Despite these restrictions, the platform has witnessed several in-game protests supporting both Palestine and Israel since the start of the recent conflict. One pro-Palestine rally, featuring characters marching with Palestinian flags and expressing solidarity, attracted over 275,000 visits. Clips of these digital demonstrations have gone viral on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok.
Roblox briefly took down the server hosting pro-Palestine protests for review before reinstating it without comment. This incident highlights the challenges of balancing freedom of expression and maintaining a respectful environment within online gaming communities.
It is crucial for parents to be aware of their children’s online activities and report any inappropriate content or harassment. By working together, parents, platforms like Roblox, and the Ministry of National Security can create a safer and more inclusive online gaming environment for young players.