The Internet has long been a sketchy place. Most try to keep certain sites and online arenas clean, but it's widely understood this is by no means an easy pursuit. Unfortunately, massive online multiplayer games like Minecraft and Roblox, which are marketed to younger demographics, are no exception. As a recent investigation found, the latter is the latest to teem with racist and bigoted trolls.
NBC News revealed that a cursory search of the Roblox servers found over 100 accounts linked to extremist right-wing profiles, with references ranging from Neo-Nazi-coded language to avatars made to resemble the standard attire of the "Western chauvinist" club, the Proud Boys.
"We are just now beginning to understand the ways in which engagement with hate speech radicalizes individuals,” Tamar Mitts, a professor at Columbia University studying online extremism, said. "The risk of radicalization may be higher for children, who do not have the tools to distinguish between accurate or misleading information."
NBC reported that Roblox quickly removed the accounts in question after they were reported, but as experts can attest, it's a problem that proliferates as quickly as it is fought.
"Sadly, it is like a game of whack-a-mole and they must rely on the due diligence of the gamers to flag problematic material, users, and groups," added Professor Jason Blazakis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
The accounts can be removed soon after they're reported. However, both experts and community moderators insist that the most effective means of combating this comes from self-reporting within the games and online spaces themselves.