The BBC reports over 1,000 Roblox accounts have been hacked to send the same message over and over again: "Ask your parents to vote for Trump this year!" Players of the online multiplayer game took to Twitter to complain about opening their accounts and seeing propaganda for the 45th President of the United States all over the place.
According to those affected by the hacking episode, their avatars were decked out with an in-game hat called The Encierro which has the slogan "Running of the Bulls" on it but which, when scaled down, looks like one of Trump's "Make America Great Again" caps. Granted, 1,000 users represents only a fraction of the platform's more than 100 million registered users, but it's worrying nonetheless.
Stick an eagle on it — Users report that, in addition to the Encierro hat, the avatars of hacked accounts are often getting decked out with t-shirts with eagles on them, or just with red, white and blue clothing. Hacking gaming platforms for political ends is pretty insidious on its own, but when it comes to Roblox, the issue becomes even more worrying as an overwhelming swath of the platform's users comprises young players aged 9 to 15.
As of May, Roblox boasted more than 10 million monthly users while at least 16 of its platform-generated games have been played over one billion times. That's an insane amount of reach. And way more users than Reddit, a platform that, incidentally, has recently taken action against its own pro-Trump offenders.
It's not clear who exactly was behind the hacking spree. It could have been a single individual or a group coordinated strategy. Heck, it could be a Russian troll farm. Whoever is responsible, you can be Roblox is working to fix the problem, because there's no surer way to shed users on a child-focused service than to have parents worrying about it being used for nefarious activity.
Though, with even TikTok users trolling the President's merch store, and Facebook finally having to act against his ads, perhaps the reelection campaign is realizing it has to aim even younger than it initially thought if it's to change the course of this year's election, which may have looked like a sure thing in January, but is now in grave doubt thanks to the administration's comprehensive mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.