Early in the first episode of the Kardashian family’s new Hulu series, The Kardashians, Kim’s son, Saint, comes running up to his mother with an iPad. “Everybody look,” he cries gleefully. “Everybody look, this is on Roblox.”
Kim does look, and at first, she laughs off whatever’s on the iPad. But then she clicks an icon — later revealed to be a picture of her “cry face” — and turns suddenly serious. She pulls the iPad from her son’s hands and calls her sister Khloé to the kitchen for a meeting.
The Roblox game her son had found, it turns out, isn’t just some meme of Kim crying. The user who’d posted the “game” had registered under the username “KimsNewSexTape” — and the description advertised the sale of never-before-seen footage of Kim and her ex-boyfriend Ray J.
Kim is very upset — understandably so — about her 20-year-old sex tape haunting her once again. The situation is made all the worse by the fact her son found this advertisement on Roblox, of all places. It’s perhaps the highest-profile moderation failure the game platform has ever seen.
Moderation failures — Kim’s situation is much larger than just this Roblox game. This isn’t as easy as asking the Roblox Corporation to remove the user-made game with her face on it. She is made to believe there’s a real risk of a sex tape leaking again, and, as such, she goes straight to her lawyers.
But Roblox is the impetus for Kim’s anxiety; if her son had been able to read the game’s description, the situation could have been infinitely worse. Roblox failed to properly moderate its platform and, in the process, nearly tipped off a five-year-old to the existence of his mother’s sex tape.
Roblox’s moderation struggles are well-documented. Sexual content, in particular, has often slipped through the game’s moderation system, with some users even creating virtual sex clubs on the platform. Pro-Trump trolls have used Roblox to tell their parents to vote for the former president. It’s not exactly shocking, in this context, that an advertisement for a celebrity sex tape would make it through Roblox’s moderation system.
A nigh impossible reckoning — Watching Kim Kardashian come face-to-face with Roblox’s failures on a hyped Hulu show verges on uncanny. This is a problem around which experts, parents, and the media have spent years raising concerns. But the Roblox subplot in The Kardashians will reach an entirely different audience. It carries with it a warning of sorts: If this could happen to Kim’s children, it could happen to yours.
Every popular platform struggles with moderation, but Roblox’s struggle is even more pressing than most. Back in 2020, Roblox bragged that half of all American children under the age of 16 played the game. While that’s certainly impressive, it also means the presence of virtual sex dungeons and ads for sex tapes are, uh, particularly concerning.
As Roblox keeps growing, these moderation mishaps are only going to become more difficult to avoid. Kim Kardashian’s experience with Roblox is a very personal one, and it’s difficult not to sympathize with her emotional reaction. Little does she know her son could’ve just as easily stumbled upon a virtual sex dungeon.