Gaming platform and social network app join Australia in tackling cyberbullying against children

Credit: Office of the eSafety Commissioner

Gaming platform Roblox and social networking app Yubo recently joined the eSafety Commissioner’s Tier 1 social media scheme to tackle cyberbullying targeting children in Australia.

Last week, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner announced latest members of the eSafety Commissioner’s Tier 1 social media scheme.

Gaming and social network platform, Roblox, and social networking app, Yubo, are the latest services to join the eSafety Commissioner and the Australian Government in efforts to tackle cyberbullying targeting children in Australia.

This means that if an Australian child under the age of 18 is cyberbullied on either Roblox or Yubo, the eSafety Commissioner now has escalation paths to get the perpetrators or content removed, if the services fail to act within 48 hours.

“The new partnerships signify Roblox and Yubo’s willingness to work with the Australian Government in keeping kids safe online, but also demonstrates their commitment to continue investing and innovating in the safety of their platforms for the benefit of their users,” said Ms Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner of Australia.

According to a recent research released by the Officer of the eSafety Commissioner, titled “State of Play – Youth and online gaming in Australia”, 6 in 10 young people aged 8 to 17 in Australia play multiplayer games. An estimated 17%, or approximately 200,000 young Australians, of these multiplayer gamers experienced in-game bullying in a 12-month period.

Prevalence of bullying amongst multiplayer game players by age (Credit: Office of the eSafety Commissioner)

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is proactively encouraging gaming and social networking platforms to join its cyberbullying scheme, particularly those with a large youth user base.

In Australia, the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 (the Act) establishes a two-tier scheme for the removal from social media services of cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child. The Tier scheme forms a key component of the new complaints system aimed at providing children and young people with a pathway for the removal of potentially harmful cyberbullying material.

Any social media services may volunteer to participate in Tier 1 including small social media services and the Commissioner can make a recommendation that large social media services be declared Tier 2. Tier 2 social media services are subject to legally binding notices and penalties.

Roblox is the first multiplayer, online gaming platform to join the eSafety Commissioner’s Tier 1 social media scheme.

“Given the high volume of global engagement, and the extent to which cyberbullying, and other safety issues, are affecting young people on gaming platforms, Roblox is setting the standard for others to follow,” said the eSafety Commissioner.

“Roblox’s efforts to continue evolving its safety standards by introducing innovative new features and protocols have been impressive,” she added.

Some of these new features Roblox rolled out include parental controls, clear age visibility, stringent chat controls, and expansion of the moderation team to moderate behaviour that is not tolerated on the platform.

On the other hand, social video app Yubo, formerly known as “Yellow”, also joined the Tier 1 social media scheme. The social video app has over 15 million users globally, allowing teenagers to create communities of friends.

In the press release, Commissioner Ms Inman Grant applauded Yubo for extensively reworking its safety features to make its platform safer for teens.

“Altering its age restrictions, improving its real identity policy, setting clear policies around inappropriate content and cyberbullying, and giving users the ability to turn location data off demonstrates that Yubo is taking user safety seriously”, she said.