Children's advertising watchdog takes aim at Roblox
BBB National Programs says Roblox didn't disclose ads properly or ensure influencers disclosed endorsements
The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of BBB National Programs is taking Roblox to task for irresponsible advertising to children under the age of 13.
The non-profit on Friday found the gaming platform in violation of a number of its guidelines due to a lack of adequate disclosure when advertising is involved in Roblox "experiences" and video content.
Additionally, it said Roblox didn't do enough to ensure social media influencers who had been paid to endorse products disclosed those ties clearly in a way that children could understand.
In the midst of CARU's investigation, Roblox told the group it would be changing its advertising standards to "require developers to programmatically identify advertising content in experiences to users under the age of 13," with that change going into effect June 15.
Those changes stemmed not from the CARU investigation, but came after a different advertising watchdog's complaint to the Federal Trade Commission.
While that addressed some of CARU's concerns, the group still took issue with the company's handling of influencers.
"CARU found that social media influencers in Roblox’s Influencer Program who had large child audiences did not clearly and conspicuously disclose their material connection to Roblox in their videos in a way children can understand," the group said, "and that influencers in the Video Stars Program who promoted their unique Star Code did not clearly and conspicuously disclose, in a way children can understand, that they will receive a commission when Robux (Roblox currency) are purchased."
Beyond that, CARU also criticized Roblox for not providing more guidance and tools to its social media influencers to help them understand best practices for disclosing their compensation to children.
CARU said Roblox's letter of response to the investigation disagreed with "some of the recommendations and statements made in the decision," but that it would start making influencers with content aimed at children use the word "paid" in their disclosures.
Roblox has been criticized for its treatment of its young user base by parent watchdog groups, investigative journalists, and users who had been exploited through the platform.
According to Roblox's latest financial report, 43% of its daily active users are under the age of 13.