Circulating message warns parents that games such as Minecraft have a doorway to the “black web”. The message claims that, if players move their game character through this doorway, they can then become the target for groomers.
To be clear, if younger children are playing games in which they can interact with other players online, then parents and guardians certainly need to remain vigilant. Predators have indeed contacted and groomed children via such platforms.
However, the claim that Minecraft or other such games have some sort of magical doorway to a sinister “black web” inhabited by sexual predators is simply nonsense. There is no such doorway.
The person who wrote and first distributed this would-be warning may have meant well, but he or she apparently has very little understanding of how the Internet actually works. Presumably, the author of the warning is referring to the so-called dark web when he or she references the “black web”. In fact, the dark web can be defined as a “collection of websites that exist on an encrypted network and cannot be found by using traditional search engines or visited by using traditional browsers”. Thus, to access the dark web, you need to use specific methods, configurations, and software and the procedure is not straightforward. Accessing the dark web is certainly not as easy and simple as having a game character enter a hidden doorway.
Moreover, why would high profile companies such as Microsoft, which now owns Minecraft, allow their games to include a doorway that could put young players at risk? The warning makes no sense.
The message may have been derived from a recent case in which a Welsh gamer was jailed after grooming two boys he met via Minecraft. However, the man did not gain access to his young victims because they went through some sinister black web doorway in the game. Instead, he first contacted the boys via normal Minecraft gameplay and then switched to Skype, SMS, and Snapchat to continue his grooming.
Or, perhaps, the message comes out of some fundamental misunderstanding of what is referred to as the “Nether” in Minecraft. The Nether equates to a Minecraft underworld that may have more “dangerous” in-game elements such as sudden cliffs and lava lakes that players need to negotiate. Players access the Nether by creating and entering a portal. The Nether may be a somewhat darker part of the Minecraft world and is perhaps best avoided by more impressionable younger players. Nevertheless, children who do venture into the Nether are no more likely to be groomed by online predators than those who remain in the Minecraft overworld.
These misleading and inaccurate warnings can actually do more harm than good. For example, parents who believe this nonsensical warning may well ban their children from using Minecraft and thus think that they have effectively locked the door to the “black web” and are thereby keeping their children safe. Meanwhile, the children may still be using social media websites such as Facebook and Snapchat, text messaging, and Skype to communicate with others. Predators certainly use these platforms to groom and victimise children.
In short, stopping children from using one particular game in response to spurious claims that it contains a magic door to the “black web” is utterly pointless.
Keeping young children safe from online predators requires continued monitoring of ALL of their Internet activities, not just one particular gaming platform.
We would like to warn all parents about an issue which has come to our knowledge regarding online gaming in particular Minecraft. Sometimes there is a door which appears in the game, once the player has moved their character through the doorway they have entered the Black Web and can become the target for groomers. Please pass this information on to anyone you know whose child plays on this game.
Last updated: February 10, 2017
First published: February 10, 2017
By Brett M. Christensen
Importance NoticeAfter considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.
These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.
Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.
And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.
When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.
I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.
A Big Thank YouI would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.
I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.
Closing DateHoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.
Thank you, one and all!