US Homeland Security awards $700k to group using Roblox for counter-terrorist research

an image of robloxRoblox

Middlebury College is working with the US Department of Homeland Security in a bid to combat threats of extremism amid younger players in games such as Roblox.

Security in social media and gaming continues to evolve, with new initiatives aiming to protect potentially vulnerable players. Roblox, one of the biggest online experiences in the world, has over 50 million players worldwide.

Though there are plenty of game modes, worlds, and more to explore in the game, many are catered towards younger players.

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In a new project alongside the US Department of Homeland Security, Roblox is part of a roster of titles that will be part of a research project to enhance its security protocols.

Roblox part of $700,000 counter-terrorism program

As part of a program led by Middlebury College’s Institute of International Studies, $700,000 has been awarded via the US Department of Homeland Security to conduct research on threats of extremism and radicalization. This two-year program marks the first time that the DHS has distributed funding toward counter-terrorism within online gaming.

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Speaking on their goals for the project with Ars, researchers within Middlebury’s program said it will enrich “the development of a set of best practices and centralized resources for monitoring and evaluation of extremist activities.”

The program will also develop “a series of training workshops for the monitoring, detection, and prevention of extremist exploitation in gaming spaces.”

Roblox characters coverAmazon / Roblox Corp
Roblox remains one of the most popular games in the world.

The deputy director of the CTEC (Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism) at Middlebury College claimed that the DHS funded program will also seek to engage companies such as Activision and Bungie, as their products “essentially act like social platforms.”

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“I want game developers, especially big ones like Roblox and Microsoft, to have dedicated counter-extremism in-games teams,” Newhouse elaborated.

Newhouse expanded on this, adding “these days, we need to push to be that sophisticated on the games industry side as well.”

Though the program has only been in progress for six months, they intend to speak with the Entertainment Software Association to increase the program’s output.

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