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Roblox is ‘exploiting’ users with deceptive advertising, watchdog group says

Image: Roblox Corp.

Advertising in the metadata store is difficult.

Truth in Advertising, a nonprofit that aims to protect consumers from “deceptive advertising and deceptive marketing,” filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday alleging that Roblox “abstained from its liability” to follow the guidelines. on the children’s game platform. Throughout the complaint, several major US-based companies, including Netflix, Nike, Hasbro, and Mattel, are cited as companies that own games on the platform that use deceptive marketing practices.

Roblox is a game platform and “metaverse” that primarily appeals to children. Most of the games that Roblox Corp. has released. “experience” searches are made by platform users, not the company itself. However, in recent years, more and more reputable companies have started using Roblox games to advertise their products. Hasbro launched a Nerf Gun sniper; Mattel has released an open world Hot Wheels game; and most recently, Sega of America has partnered with a company to publish a Sonic the Hedgehog game on the platform. The Truth in Advertising complaint states that “advertising is being snooped on to millions of unsuspecting Roblox users” because “a public company failed to provide any substantial protections in law to ensure truthfulness, advertising on your platform.”

The report goes deeper to explain and list various issues with advertising practices on Roblox, but most of it is ads that are not flagged or disclosed in different formats. (For example, distributed advertising is when an influencer uses #ad on TikTok, and that platform requires users to include whether it’s a post-paid promotion or not to comply with FTC guidelines.) Fact in Advertising says it can be difficult to play games that young children refer to as “advergames”. – games created to promote certain brands or products – and common games made by users to distinguish between them. The report lists an example search for: strange thingsThe survey results are not clear on the difference between Netflix’s paid game and fan-made games.

According to Roblox community guidelines, developers who place ads in their games “remain responsible for all advertising content” and must abide by “Community Rules, Terms of Use and all other Roblox rules”.

Requested to comment on the complaint, Roblox Corp. He explained to Polygon:

Roblox is dedicated to ensuring that our users and developers have a positive and safe experience on our platform. We have strict guidelines for developers who want to promote or use advertising in their experience, including specific rules to protect users under the age of 13, the expectation that all developers follow our strict Community Standards, and no tolerance for scam or scam. . We have strict rules and monitoring processes aimed at combating content to abuse or mislead users. We’re also investing heavily in new ways to ensure that creators’ efforts are rewarded, while ensuring their ad experiences are transparent and compliant with applicable laws and regulations.

Truth in Advertising’s 44-page complaint goes on to mention specific examples of deceptive marketing practices that can occur on Roblox. For example, there are real-life gamers who act as brand ambassadors for virtual content on the platform and interact with users in Roblox games. The complaint lists Nike influencers who spend time on Roblox and “purchase” Nike equipment and play the Nike game, but talk to people inside Roblox who “are not financially disclosed to Nike.”

In addition, Advertising Truth’s report interrogates “undisclosed” or unmarked Roblox avatars engaged in promotional activities such as giving away or selling in-game items. This may be true for any unmarked NPC selling in-game content, but the report also points to celebrity-inspired avatars like one of LeBron James being used in promotional exchanges.

“Wherever endorsements occur, advertisers must fulfill their duty to ensure that the form, content and description used by any influencer is at least lawful. Even in the metaverse, companies are legally responsible for ensuring that consumers, regardless of age, know that what they see or interact with is an endorsement,” Truth said at Advertising. The brand (including Roblox) cannot ignore its legal obligation to announce these endorsements.”


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Roblox is ‘exploiting’ users with deceptive advertising, watchdog group says

Image: Roblox Corp.
Advertising in the metaverse is tricky.
Truth in Advertising, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect consumers from “false advertising and deceptive marketing,” filed a complaint Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission alleging that Roblox has “completely shirked its responsibility” in following advertising laws on the kids gaming platform. The full complaint names several major U.S.-based corporations, including Netflix, Nike, Hasbro, and Mattel, as companies that have games on the platform that use deceptive marketing practices.
Roblox is a gaming and “metaverse” platform that primarily caters to children. Many of the games, which Roblox Corp. calls “experiences,” are made by users of the platform, not the company itself. However, over the past several years, more and more big-name companies have begun using Roblox games to advertise their products. Hasbro released a Nerf Gun shooter; Mattel released an open-world Hot Wheels game; and more recently, Sega of America partnered with a company to release a Sonic the Hedgehog game on the platform. In its complaint, Truth in Advertising says that “advertising is being surreptitiously pushed on millions of unsuspecting Roblox users” because a “public company has failed to establish any meaningful guardrails to ensure compliance with truth in advertising laws on its platform.”
The report goes into great depth to describe and list various problems with advertising practices on Roblox, but a lot of what it comes down to is unmarked or undisclosed advertising in different forms. (Disclosed advertising, for instance, is when an influencer uses #ad on TikTok, which that platform requires users to include if the post is a paid promotion so that they abide by FTC guidelines.) Truth in Advertising says it can be difficult for young children to distinguish between what it calls “advergames” — games that are created to promote specific brands or products — and regular user-made games. The report lists an example of searching for Stranger Things, with the search results being unclear as to the difference between the paid Netflix game and fan-made ones.
According to the Roblox community guidelines, developers who place advertisements in their games “remain responsible for all advertising content,” and must follow the “Community Rules, the Terms of Use and all other Roblox rules.”
Reached for comment about the complaint, Roblox Corp. issued the following statement to Polygon:

Roblox is committed to ensuring our users and developers have a positive and safe experience on our platform. We have strict guidelines for developers that want to promote or use ads within their experiences, including specific rules to protect users under 13, expectations that all developers adhere to Community Standards we strictly enforce, and no tolerance for fraud or scams. We have stringent rules and monitoring processes aimed at combating content to exploit or trick users. We also make significant investments in new ways to allow creators to be compensated for their efforts while ensuring ad experiences are transparent and comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Truth in Advertising’s 44-page complaint goes on to mention specific instances of misleading marketing practices that can occur in Roblox. For example, there are real-life players who serve as brand ambassadors for virtual content on the platform and interact with users within Roblox games. The complaint lists Nike influencers who spend time on Roblox and “buy” Nike gear and talk to people playing the Nike game, but aren’t “disclosed in the material connection to Nike” within Roblox.
In addition, Truth in Advertising’s report takes issue with “undisclosed” or unmarked Roblox avatars that engage in promotional activities, such as giving or selling in-game items. This could apply to any unmarked NPC that sells in-game content, but the report also points out that celebrity-inspired avatars, like one of LeBron James, have been used in promotional exchanges.
“Wherever endorsements take place, advertisers must fulfill their duty to ensure that the form, content and disclosure used by any influencer, at a minimum, complies with the law. Even in the metaverse, companies are legally responsible for ensuring that consumers, whatever their age may be, know that what they are viewing or interacting with is an endorsement,” Truth in Advertising said. “And despite the transitory nature of avatar influencers participating as walking, talking endorsements within the Roblox metaverse, no brand (including Roblox) is permitted to ignore its legal obligation to disclose these endorsements.”

#Roblox #exploiting #users #deceptive #advertising #watchdog #group


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