Roblox and Discord Sued Over Girl’s Sexual Exploitation

    Roblox and Discord face a case alleging sexual exploitation of an 11-year-old girl by a predator while playing online games.
    By: BLOOMBERG
    | Updated on: Oct 06 2022, 21:43 IST
    In pics: PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Free Fire, Minecraft are some of the most actively played games in 2021
    The 2021 list of most actively games includes PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Among Us!, Candy Crush Saga, Garena Free Fire, Minecraft and more.  Thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, gaming in general and mobile gaming in particular has seen a huge increase over the past year and a half. Gamers are increasingly turning to their devices since they are unable to go out as much as they used to before the pandemic arrived. According to statistics available from analytics firm App Annie, the mobile gaming market has seen a big increase in gaming and consumer spending. India is still the world’s biggest mobile gaming market, according to the report. Here’s a list of some of the most actively played games this year, according to App Annie’s latest report on gaming on mobiles for the first half of 2021. The list consists of PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Among Us!, Candy Crush Saga, Garena Free Fire, Minecraft and more
    1/9 The 2021 list of most actively games includes PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Among Us!, Candy Crush Saga, Garena Free Fire, Minecraft and more.  Thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, gaming in general and mobile gaming in particular has seen a huge increase over the past year and a half. Gamers are increasingly turning to their devices since they are unable to go out as much as they used to before the pandemic arrived. According to statistics available from analytics firm App Annie, the mobile gaming market has seen a big increase in gaming and consumer spending. India is still the world’s biggest mobile gaming market, according to the report. Here’s a list of some of the most actively played games this year, according to App Annie’s latest report on gaming on mobiles for the first half of 2021. The list consists of PUBG Mobile, Honor of Kings, Among Us!, Candy Crush Saga, Garena Free Fire, Minecraft and more
    PUBG Mobile: This wildly popular multiplayer battle royale game is at the top of the list and it involves up to 100 players parachuting onto an island and find weapons to attack and kill their enemies. The player (or the team) to survive the longest while staying in the “safe areas” on the map wins the battle royale match. PUBG Mobile game is currently banned in India, and has been succeeded by the recently released Battlegrounds Mobile India.
    2/9 PUBG Mobile: This wildly popular multiplayer battle royale game is at the top of the list and it involves up to 100 players parachuting onto an island and find weapons to attack and kill their enemies. The player (or the team) to survive the longest while staying in the “safe areas” on the map wins the battle royale match. PUBG Mobile game is currently banned in India, and has been succeeded by the recently released Battlegrounds Mobile India. (PUBG/KRAFTON)
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    3/9 Honor of Kings: If you have played League of Legends, then the Honor of Kings game will feel very familiar, with a mobile multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game format that allows for cross-platform play across iOS and Android. On Honor of Kings, players must gain experience and gold by killing Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and attacking the enemy’s turrets and the core building to win the game. These can be used to skill up and unlock more abilities and purchase items. (Tencent)
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    4/9 Among Us!: One of the more brain-twisting game titles on this list, Among Us! is a game that requires your attention and your wits without a break. Players are matched with others and placed on a virtual spaceship with either the role of Crewmates or Impostors. The job of all the gamers is to identify who the Impostors are and eliminate them from the game via voting using an Emergency meeting or reporting a dead body -- while performing tasks on the ship. (Innersloth)
    Candy Crush Saga: One of King’s most popular match-three puzzle games, Candy Crush Saga goes all the way back to 2012, but it has not lost its popularity over the years. The game is available on computers as well as on Android and iPhone. Gamers must complete levels by switching candy pieces on the board so that three or more pieces of the same colour can be matches and eliminated from the board. Matching four or more candies can make the game more exciting with different abilities to remove more candy from the board.
    5/9 Candy Crush Saga: One of King’s most popular match-three puzzle games, Candy Crush Saga goes all the way back to 2012, but it has not lost its popularity over the years. The game is available on computers as well as on Android and iPhone. Gamers must complete levels by switching candy pieces on the board so that three or more pieces of the same colour can be matches and eliminated from the board. Matching four or more candies can make the game more exciting with different abilities to remove more candy from the board. (Pixabay)
    Free Fire: Garena Free Fire is one of the most popular battle royale games and offers users the ability to choose where they want to jump out on the map, which can make a big difference if they know a specific terrain well. Once players land, they must scavenge for weapons and equipment while battling a total of 50 players to remain the only surviving player in the game, like PUBG, they must also remain in the “safe zones” that keep getting smaller and the last team or person alive is the winner.
    6/9 Free Fire: Garena Free Fire is one of the most popular battle royale games and offers users the ability to choose where they want to jump out on the map, which can make a big difference if they know a specific terrain well. Once players land, they must scavenge for weapons and equipment while battling a total of 50 players to remain the only surviving player in the game, like PUBG, they must also remain in the “safe zones” that keep getting smaller and the last team or person alive is the winner. (Garena International)
    Ludo King: A popular Indian game created by Mumbai-based Gametion Technologies, Ludo King is built on the Unity Engine and works just like the Indian board game. This means players will roll a virtual dice to move their (four) pieces around the board till they reach the center while passing the other players “bases”. Gamers can play against other players, the computer, a local mode that involves passing the device around and multiplayer with friends.
    7/9 Ludo King: A popular Indian game created by Mumbai-based Gametion Technologies, Ludo King is built on the Unity Engine and works just like the Indian board game. This means players will roll a virtual dice to move their (four) pieces around the board till they reach the center while passing the other players “bases”. Gamers can play against other players, the computer, a local mode that involves passing the device around and multiplayer with friends. (Ludo King)
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    8/9 Minecraft Pocket Edition: Popular sandbox and survival game Minecraft is popular on almost every platform the game is available on. It is no surprise then, that the game is regularly in the top 10 and regularly at the top spot in the App Store's and Google Play's Paid Apps Section in the Top Charts. The game focuses on survival and creative building of the original game, minus some of the other features on the full edition. Users can download the game for both Android and iPhone via their respective app stores. (Windows Blog)
    Call of Duty: Mobile A popular battle royale game created Activision, Call of Duty Mobile was already popular in India but shot to fame and saw downloads increase after PUBG Mobile was banned in the country last year. The game is a free-to-play shooter and includes a battle royale mode along with FPS modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, Free for All, Hardpoint, Kill Confirmed, and players can use “Scorestreaks” to use special weapons in the game.
    9/9 Call of Duty: Mobile A popular battle royale game created Activision, Call of Duty Mobile was already popular in India but shot to fame and saw downloads increase after PUBG Mobile was banned in the country last year. The game is a free-to-play shooter and includes a battle royale mode along with FPS modes like Team Deathmatch, Domination, Free for All, Hardpoint, Kill Confirmed, and players can use “Scorestreaks” to use special weapons in the game. (Call of Duty/Activision)
    Roblox
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    Roblox Corp. and Discord Inc. face lawsuit over the allegation of an 11-year old girl suffering sexual exploitation while playing online games. (REUTERS)

    Roblox Corp. and Discord Inc. are the latest targets in a wave of lawsuits over social media addiction, in a case alleging an 11-year-old girl was exploited by a sexual predator while playing online video games.

    The girl became acquainted with adult men through Roblox and Discord's direct messaging services, which she thought had safeguards protecting her, according to a statement by her lawyers at the Seattle-based Social Media Victims Law Center who have brought numerous other addiction cases.

    Wednesday's complaint in state court in San Francisco also blames Snap Inc. and Meta Platforms Inc. for the girl's mental-health difficulties and suicide attempts.

    “These men sexually and financially exploited her,” the group said. “They also introduced her to the social media platforms Instagram and Snapchat, to which she became addicted.”

    Meta declined to comment on the suit. Roblox, Discord and Snap didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

    Meta and Snap have previously said they're working to protect their youngest users, including by offering resources on mental health topics and improving safeguards to stop the spread of harmful content.

    More than 80 lawsuits have been filed this year against Meta, Snap, ByteDance Inc.'s TikTok, and Alphabet Inc.'s Google centering on claims from adolescents and young adults that they've suffered anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and sleeplessness after getting hooked on social media. In at least seven cases, the plaintiffs are the parents of children who've died by suicide.

    Discord is a gaming chat app that has 150 million monthly active users. Popular with young people, Discord was known as a sort of wild-west space online. The company beefed up its moderation efforts over the past two years. In 2022, at least a half-dozen cases involving child sex abuse material or grooming children cited Discord, according to a Bloomberg search of Justice Department records.

    Roblox is a gaming platform with over 203 million monthly active users, many of whom are children. Young players have been introduced to extremists on the platform, who may take conversations elsewhere online like Discord or Skype. Roblox has robust moderation efforts, which include scanning text chat for inappropriate words as well as every virtual image uploaded to the game.

    The girl in the lawsuit, who's identified only by the initials S.U., and her family are seeking to hold the social media companies financially responsible for the harms they allegedly caused. The family also wants a court order directing the platforms to make their products safer, which the Social Media Victims Law Center said can be done through existing technologies and at minimal time and expense for the companies.

    S.U. said soon after she got an iPad for Christmas at age 10, a man named Charles “befriended” her on Roblox and encouraged her to drink alcohol and take prescription drugs.

    Later, encouraged by the men she met on Roblox and Discord, S.U. opened Instagram and Snapchat accounts, initially hiding them from her mother, according to the complaint.

    While she wasn't yet 13 -- the minimum age for accounts on Instagram and Snap under their terms of service -- S.U. became addicted to the platforms to the point that she would sneak online in the middle of the night, leading her to become sleep-deprived, according to the complaint.

    In 2020, S.U. says she fell victim to a Roblox user named Matthew, a 22-year-old from Missouri who convinced her to send sexually explicit images, which he allegedly sold online.

    S.U. relied heavily on Snapchat's “My Eyes Only” feature to hide what was happening from her mother, who continued to monitor S.U.'s social media use but didn't know about My Eyes Only, according to the complaint.

    She tried to take her own life in July 2020 and again in August 2020 and her parents went more than $10,000 into debt in 2021 from expenses related to her mental-health crises, according to the complaint.

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    First Published Date: 06 Oct, 21:42 IST
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