A class action lawsuit was filed against Roblox Corporation in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. The lawsuit alleges that Roblox, in a “sham ‘content moderation'” scheme, deletes content paid for by users without providing refunds on the grounds that the content violates the platform’s policies. At least 70% of Roblox’s users are under the age of 18, and over 50% of Roblox’s users are under the age of 13.
Roblox is a gaming platform with over 36 million daily active users. Roblox allows its users to purchase in-game content on the platform in exchange for real money. Using the Roblox Studio, creators and developers can “build, publish, and operate 3D experiences and content for the Roblox Client. . . which they sell in a user-to-user marketplace known as the Avatar Shop.” Roblox takes a 30% commission on all user-to-user transactions. Players purchase in-game currency, called “Robux,” to use in the user-to-user transactions. The Avator Shop, where users purchase the user-created content, sells items ranging in price from one Robux up to several million Robux.
At issue in the complaint is Roblox’s “extremely lax content moderation,” whereby “Roblox elicits the appearance of content moderation by taking allegedly violative content down, but only after users have already purchased it.” The complaint alleges that “Roblox has deleted items days, months, and even years after the user has made the purchase,” and that “Roblox refuses to refund or credit users’ accounts after it deleted these items.” The complaint describes Roblox’s content moderation scheme as one where “Roblox does nothing to prevent [inappropriate or violative] items from being sold in the Avatar Shop in the first place.” Rather, the content moderation is characterized as one “designed to ‘moderate’ items only after thousands of users purchased and paid for them.” The complaint continues on to state that “Roblox offers no explanation of what policy the item actually violated, how it generally makes such determinations or how to appeal its decisions.” The complaint also alleges that “[u]sers and developers often re-introduce previously deleted items on the Avatar Shop – including items previously removed for violating third-party trademarks,” providing the “Black Nike Tank Top” item as an example.
The complaint cites California’s Unfair Competition Law, alleging that Roblox engages “in the fraudulent and unfair business acts and practices alleged,” California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, alleging that Roblox engages in unfair or deceptive practices in a transaction relating to the sale of goods or services to a consumer, as well as general allegations of fraud, conversion, and unjust enrichment. In relief, the complaint seeks an order certifying the class, a declaration that “Roblox’s conduct constitutes a violation under the California UCL and CLRA, fraud, conversion, and unjust enrichment,” injunctive and equitable relief, “economic, monetary, actual, consequential, compensatory, and punitive damages,” litigation expenses and attorneys’ fees, and an award of pre and post-judgment interest.
Gaming, Courthouse News Service (May 25, 2021)
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