Figures dressed as cartoon characters chant together for Palestine as they arrive at the stage, as group leaders stand together to direct participants on the time and location of the next march.
This scene can be found inside “Roblox,” the children’s game that gained popularity during the lockdowns during the Corona pandemic, as more than half of teenagers in the United States were playing it.
The game allows users to build their worlds and social experiences and share them with their friends or other users. This game has remained very popular with more than 65 million daily active users. In times of crisis, it has also become an outlet for young people to safely participate in political activity and learn about global events.
For the sake of Palestine
Salsabil – a pseudonym for a Roblox user from Malaysia – told TechCrunch that she was very moved when she learned that her younger cousin had entered the game to participate in the protests in support of Palestine.
Salsabil added in a post on the “X” website, “My cousin is 15 years old, and she was unable to join the protest, so I just went to one of the protests against the game Roblox. I am crying.”
The post went viral, garnering more than 6 million views, and contributed to increasing the number of visits to the game “Roblox” in Malaysia now to more than 332,000 visits.
Salsabil said, “I remember that people were organizing solidarity events through several games in the past, such as the game “Minicraft,” and I heard about people organizing demonstrations through the game “Animal Crossing.” This is not surprising as much as it is happy, because children are able to use any means. “It is available to them to show solidarity with any movement seeking justice.”
y’all my cousin is 15 and couldn’t join a protest so she just went to one on roblox bro i’m crying 😭😭😭😭😭
— salsabeel سلسبيل 🦊🇵🇸 (@funnecfox) October 23, 2023
Conversations on Roblox do not appear to be hostile, so they are unlikely to be shut down by the platform’s moderation tools.
Conversations in games are often subject to monitoring by moderation tools, so children use encrypted words using hashtags in their conversations. Even if some of the words and messages posted are not harmful, some of them are automatically banned under the algorithms that work to purify these conversations from certain words.
For example, words and phrases such as “Jews,” “Hamas,” and “Free Palestine” are always subject to censorship, regardless of the context in which they appear. However, it is easy for users to get around these barriers by using alternative characters.
A Roblox spokesperson said in an email statement to TechCrunch, “While our community standards allow expressions of solidarity, we do not allow content that endorses or condones violence, encourages terrorism or hatred against individuals or groups, or calls for… To support a particular political party. “We have an expert team of thousands of moderators along with automated detection tools in place to monitor our platform and will take swift action against any content or individuals found to be violating our standards.”
The server hosting the protests was taken offline for review for a few hours on Wednesday, and returned to work a short time later.
Salsabil told TechCrunch, “I’m happy because people are showing support in as many ways as possible. Even if they can’t go there physically, the children are able to have productive conversations.”
How to make a solidarity pause on “Roblox”
It’s easy, just log in to the public server, search in the search box for a chat group titled (Palastine Dataran Tanjung Mas), and when entering the chat there are two options: carry the flag of Palestine or Malaysia? When you choose the flag of Palestine, you can now walk in this virtual world with many other imaginary characters of other users, heading to the main platform where the protest organizers gather, and the chant for free Palestine begins.