Roblox’s Election Simulator is Swarming with Fascists

Roblox’s Election Simulator is Swarming with Fascists

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Following a recent report by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) on how far-right groups are co-opting video games to spread hateful propaganda to kids and teenagers, a follow-up investigation on Roblox’s “Election Simulator” reveals a worrying level of hate and violent intent towards marginalized communities, with users using a digital election space to campaign on dangerous far-right rhetoric, including support for fascism and Nazism. With several elections worldwide coming in 2024 and 2025, including here in the United States, it’s incredibly concerning that extremists have taken a space meant to illustrate the democratic process in order to propagate hateful, authoritarian, and genocidal ideas.

Roblox is a gaming platform available in almost every country with a youthful user base – but still played by potential voters, with 38% of players 17 years of age and older and the 17-to-24 age category being the fastest-growing on the platform. There are over 5.5 million active “experiences” to play on Roblox, including experiences tailored exclusively to those 17 years old and over. Experiences are digital “locations” created by Roblox users for either public or private use, and can range from mimicking real-world environments, such as a New York City subway line, to completely fictitious scenarios like a “zombie uprising.” The combination of Roblox’s custom world creation and youthful demographic makes it a prime breeding ground for predatory extremists such as “Robloxwaffen Division,” “Vanguard Robloxia,” and “Roblox Front.” These groups, all based on real-world extremist groups (Atomwaffen Division, Vanguard Britannica, and Patriot Front, respectively), promote neo-Nazi ideology and advocate for violence against marginalized communities on Roblox, both in their own private experiences and by harassing other users on Roblox, such as in the “LGBT hangout” and “Rate My Avatar” experiences.

One such experience exploited by extremists is the Election Simulator, a virtual debate stage allowing any Roblox user to set their political affiliation as a Democrat, Independent, or Republican, create a party “slogan,” choose a “running mate” to stand and campaign beside them, make their case on the debate stage, and have the “audience” (i.e., other Roblox users currently in the experience) vote for their preferred candidate. Election Simulator has previously been infiltrated by the Patriot Youth, a youth group originating on Roblox with ties to the white supremacist Patriot Front, which campaigned in-game for “white rights.”

A Roblox user with a Donald Trump avatar campaigns on “build[ing] the wall stronger and better then (sic) ever before!” (Source: Roblox)

According to Roblox’s Community Standards, the platform values “friendly debate” about political issues, but prohibits political content that represents “current candidates running for public office, including their slogans, campaign material, rallies, or events,” “political parties, including official party-affiliated organizations,” “sitting real-world elected officials,” “individuals who have previously run for political office in their capacity as candidate,” “specific races for elected office,” and “inflammatory content related to real world border, territorial, or jurisdictional relationships.” Roblox also prohibits “content or behavior that supports, glorifies, or promotes hate groups, their ideologies, or actions,” including discrimination or the promotion of hatred against individuals or groups, based on their: “age,” “race, perceived race, or ethnicity,” “national origin,” “sexual orientation,” “gender, gender identity, or gender expression,” “religion or religious affiliation or beliefs,” and “caste.” Roblox typically replaces obscene or violent speech in its in-game chat box with the hash (#) symbol.

Leading up to the “Super Tuesday” primary elections for both Republicans and Democrats on March 5, which already mobilized extremist groups like the Proud Boys, users were able to violate these terms with abandon and without content moderation enforcement from Roblox.

Real Political Figures and Far-Right Rhetoric
Throughout February, Roblox users imitated several former and current political candidates, primarily Americans. One of the most popular figures “role played” (i.e., users pretending to be someone else) by Roblox users is former President Donald Trump. When campaigning as Trump, users will invoke slogans coined by the former president, including “Make America Great Again” and “Build the Wall!” Some were more explicit in their real-world support for Trump, including one user, “POTUS47,” who created the slogan “TR5MP|2024” while running as a Republican in Election Simulator. Changing the letters in a word to numbers, such as changing “TRUMP” to “TR5MP,” is a common tactic used to evade AI moderation systems on online platforms. Support for Trump transcended electoral politics and led to users calling for a “coup against the gov[ernment],” and that “its (sic) time for Jan 6th.” Users also role played as former political figures, such as George Bush, Richard Nixon, and Mao Zedong.

Other topics popular with the far right came up repeatedly. The US-Mexico border became a common talking point amongst Roblox users, echoing the anti-immigrant rhetoric used by many political figures, and a slew of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups following the recent border standoff between the federal and Texas state governments. Users campaigned on “secur[ing] our southern border” leading to “more secure citys (sic),” since they believe Mexicans crossing the border are “bringing drus (sic)” and “crime.” These comments allude to the false far-right belief that harsh border restrictions are required to curtail crime, of which immigrants are commonly demonized as perpetrating. 

Roblox’s automated moderation system, which replaces certain words and phrases with “#,” fell far short of its purpose, as it was only able to succeed in moderating words in Roblox’s official chat box (above the player). As a result, the player was able to invoke one of Trump’s most popular slogans, “Build a Wall,” violating Roblox’s Community Standards.

A candidate on Election Simulator running under the slogan “Make America good again” alongside an avatar resembling Adolf Hitler. Roblox was only able to moderate the chatbox above the player’s head, which is native to the platform, rather than the one designed for Election Simulator below the player. (Source: Roblox).

Targeted Hate and Calls For Violence
Promotion of hatred based on one’s “gender, gender identity, or gender expression,” “ “religion or religious affiliation or beliefs,” and “race” is prohibited under Roblox’s community standards. Anti-LGBTQ+ hate runs rampant on Election Simulator, without any intervention from Roblox. A user ran under the slogan “MAKE AMERICA POWERFULL (sic) AGAIN,” and campaigned on “keep[ing] USA [a] Christian country.” The same user was selected as a running mate under the slogan “Free America, No Crime and LGBT.” Others would campaign for “no more LGBTQ,” “don’t LGBTQ,” promising to “eliminate all the LGTQ (sic) people and supporters…” and multiple users said they would “not allow LGBTQ” in America. One user, campaigning under the slogan “Dictataorship (sic) is great,” called dictatorship “essential” and said people “must become militants” and “seize control of our nation by eliminating the LGBTQ community.”

A user claims that “dictatorship is essential” and that people must “eliminat[e] the LGBTQ community” on Election Simulator. Calls for violence against the LGBTQ community were not moderated by Roblox, even in its official chatbox (Source: Roblox)

Extreme racism can also be found in Election Simulator. “Candidates” and the audience both supported “White Rights,” claiming “the confederacy will rise again,” exclaiming “TND”, short for “TOTAL N****R DEATH,” calls to “bring back slayveri (sic)” and to “put [Black people] back in cuffs.” There were many comments expressing hate for Muslims, such as those calling for Islam to “go down,” and encouraging other users to “hate on Muslims.”

 

Role Playing as Nazis
Organized online neo-Nazi groups, also prohibited under “content or behavior that supports, glorifies, or promotes hate groups, their ideologies, or actions,” are well-documented to have spread hateful propaganda on Roblox, but not often in such a direct way as a presidential debate stage, and not dressed like Adolf Hitler. Users of Election Simulator role play as fascists, National Socialists, or even as Hitler himself. One user, “HonkWonk,” a name similar to “Honk Honk,” a euphemism for “Heil Hitler” used online and popularized during the Canadian “Freedom Convoy,” campaigned under the slogan “Ich bin austeriech (sic) painter” (“I am an Austrian painter”). “Austrian painter” is used to reference Hitler without triggering moderators or automoderation algorithms. These Hitler roleplayers discussed “clos[ing] borders to immigration,” “sav[ing] our country from immigration,” and causing World War III. A user named “AdolxHitlus1939,” campaigning as a Republican, said to “attack Mexico.”

An Election Simulator player with a Hitler avatar campaigns on “clos[ing] our borders to immigration” (Source: Roblox)

Neo-Nazis also took the stage under the slogans “National Soxcialism for Roblox” and “National Soxcialism for USA.” “National Socialism” is usually censored, but adding an “x” is a simple way of evading moderation. These users campaigned against “cultural wokeism,” a term used by the far right to demonize “wokeness,” otherwise known as supporting social justice causes, “neoliberalism,” and claimed that “Old Germany was good in most ways.” The user, holasoydora, also campaigned against abortion in order to “protect families.” Promotion of fascism on the platform continued with users campaigning under the slogans “VOTE ME FOR A FASCIST COUNTRY!” and “FAZISM RULES.” These fascist and National Socialist campaigners, along with those who pushed hateful rhetoric, won multiple “elections” throughout the month.

 

Two players use Election Simulator to campaign for National Socialism in the United States (Source: Roblox)

Roblox has long failed to curtail youth extremist organizations on their platform, and only deplatformed experiences belonging to the Patriot Youth after GPAHE alerted them. Now, with the United States federal election fast approaching, and dozens more across the globe, they must enforce their community guidelines and prevent the spread of extremism, especially in experiences designed to mimic the democratic process.

1600 844 Global Project Against Hate and Extremism
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