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Press Release

As Habbo Reintroduces Chat Into Selected Markets, Sulake CEO Invites Parents To Contribute To Online Culture Change

  • From today, limited[1] chat is reintroduced into Spanish and Brazilian online communities

  • CEO explains new technology in place to deliver improved user safety levels

  • Company invites parents to participate in first-of-its-kind Parent Advisory Summit

A message from Sulake CEO Paul LaFontaine:
“Following The Great Unmute last week, the Sulake board took the decision to restore limited chat facilities in certain markets, starting with Finland. This week, we are rolling out limited chat in Spain and Brazil, two markets that contain high proportions of active users. This will provide a representative sample of users on which to verify the improved safety of our systems as we aim to bring other markets back online.

“Further new safety measures introduced onto the site in the last fortnight are listed below:

  • All users to complete a new responsible use test prior to re-entering the site

  • Additional tracking measures to clearly tie all virtual interactions to real user identities

  • Active and visible staff moderators to be present in a wider range of rooms across the site

  • User community volunteers to be given the opportunity to qualify as Guardians (a user-populated virtual police force)

  • User community volunteers to be enabled to support on information requests so staff are free to deliver a rapid response to any reports of inappropriate use

  • All users to begin on limited chat and earn their way to filtered chat through responsible interaction

  • Basic level algorithmic chat solution to alert moderators to inappropriate content (- to be expanded in partnership with a selected supplier)

  • Increased prominence of emergency button to encourage active use

We are aware that this list of measures does not provide a comprehensive solution to the safety challenges faced by social gaming sites. For Sulake, it is a sign of our continuing commitment to delivering a safe and secure user experience.

“The last two weeks of community silence has provided an opportunity for reflection, both for our business leaders and our global user community. Previously, the senior management team addressed inappropriate interactions by equipping users with safety tools, working with partners and investing in technological and human moderation. However, the legitimate user views collected during The Great Unmute show a clear need to deliver a decisive culture change across the user base. Our users must be educated and engaged to move from acceptance and avoidance of inappropriate users to active policing and a policy of zero-tolerance across the community.

“Creating a safe and engaged user community is a responsibility shared by the company, legitimate users and their parents. During The Great Unmute we gathered the views and insights of our users and have learned lessons that have changed the future direction of our business. Now we want to listen to the parents of our users. In the coming days, we will issue a call for applications from parents to participate in our Parental Advisory Summit. It’s our chance to engage with parents around two basic questions:

• What more can we do to deliver a safe and innovative experience for the teenagers and young people who use Habbo?
• What more can we do to support parents in educating young users about the importance of responsible behaviour on social media sites?

We will be issuing a call to users and parents to apply for positions on the Advisory Summit in the coming days.

For more information about The Great Unmute, out highlights video can be found here.

[1] In a limited (‘whitelist’) chat environment, users are able to type only words that appear in the white list. When using a filtered (‘blacklist’) chat environment, users are able to type all words except those that appear in the black list. Regardless of whether the Habbo community deploys white or blacklist chat facilities, it is always in combination with monitoring software, human moderators and wider measures to equip users to protect themselves and each other from inappropriate or uncomfortable interactions.