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Disney launches online safety campaign in wake of  Habbo  scandal

Disney launches online safety campaign in wake of Habbo scandal

July 5, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Disney will launch an online safety ad campaigns centered around its popular Club Penguin virtual world, seemingly responding to concerns over Habbo's alleged lax security in blocking pedophiles.

The media company will spend £3 million ($4.7 million) on the ads, which will appear on TV channels, websites, Club Penguin, and Disney's other virtual worlds. It intends to reach 100 million children and parents across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa with the campaign.

Habbo developer Sulake was accused last month of failing to protect its players -- mostly children -- from sexual messages and content from other users. The Finnish company was forced to disable chat in the virtual world temporarily, as it suffered criticism from the media and as investors divested themselves from Sulake.

Other developers behind kid-targeted online games, such as Moshi Monsters maker Mind Candy, have since made a point to emphasize the safeguards they've implemented to protect children from inappropriate content, and now Disney is reminding others that it's committed to kids' safety online too.

Club Penguin co-founder and Disney Online Studios EVP Lane Merrifield announced the company's new initiative during a keynote at the ongoing Children's Media Conference, and said that educating kids about online safety is critical for building safer environments in games, according to The Guardian.

He added that companies must do more than just promise security: "Building trust with parents means not simply marketing safety, but actually achieving it. I truly believe that self-regulation can work, but as an industry we need to be clear and accountable for the standards that we set ourselves."

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