Through the pandemic, the user-created game platform that’s so popular with kids, Roblox, expanded its user base and decided to go public. Within two years, its value shot from less than $4 billion to $45 billion. Now it’s being sued—along with Discord, Snap, and Meta—by a parent who alleges that during the pandemic, Roblox became the gateway enabling multiple adult users to prey on a 10-year-old girl.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the San Francisco Superior Court shows how sexual predators can exploit multiple social platforms at once to cover their tracks while financially and sexually exploiting children. It alleges that, in 2020, Roblox connected a young girl called S.U. with adult men who abused her for months, manipulating her into sending payments using Roblox currency called Robux and inducing her to share explicit photos on Discord and Snapchat through 2021. As the girl grew increasingly anxious and depressed, the lawsuit alleges that Instagram began recommending self-harm content, and ultimately, S.U. had to withdraw from school after multiple suicide attempts.
Like many similar product liability lawsuits that social platforms have recently faced for allegedly addicting children and causing harms, this new lawsuit seeks to hold platforms accountable for reportedly continuing to promote the use of features that tech companies know can pose severe risks for minor users. And S.U.’s guardian, known as C.U. in the lawsuit, wants platforms to pay for profiting off systems that allegedly recklessly engage child users.