It was announced this week that Disney (DIS) had purchased the children's social networking site "Club Penguin". My initial reaction was that it was a good idea but, something just did not sit right with me.
After more thought it hit me. I wonder if Disney has considered how this may possibly backfire? The news a few weeks ago that there were 29,000 convicted sex offenders on News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace that were using there own names tell us that the internet and social networking sites are the "playgrounds" of the 70's and 80's for pedophiles.
Now, admittedly the Disney Penguin site is not as well known as Myspace but now that Disney is the new owner, that will change. I am sure that Disney has plans for the Penguin to become THE social site for youngsters and with that comes the inevitable problems of this century.
I am also sure that Disney will take extra precautions to ensure pedophiles do not use their own names but if one wants to become anonymous in today's age, they can easily pretend they are a 6 year old.
Because it is now a Disney site, expectations for safety will be far greater and a single problem will instantly become an enormous issue. Any issue with the site will rub off on the theme parks. People will begin to wonder, "if the pedophiles are on the site, are they in the parks also"? Personally, as the father of three it will be a cold day in hell before any of my kids spend time on any of these sites, but millions of children are daily and shows like "To Catch A Predator" on Dateline should illustrate the depth pedophiles will go to meet children.
Disney is in a tough place with this one. If the site becomes very popular and profitable it will attract the sickos, if it doesn't it was wasted money.
I have a feeling Disney will regret this one....