When I first read the headline I thought that the world had finally turned itself entirely mad. “Disney Digs Deeper Into Social Media” over on CNBC just looks so wrong! Social media is currently the cause for many moral panics, you can’t trust your kids on there as they bully one-another into suicide, you can’t trust the adults since they are all pretending to be 14 year old girls, bosses can’t trust their employees not to waste time or reveal confidential corporate information. Did you know Corbis offer insurance against the PR damage that your company will receive if it appears on Wikileaks.
So now Disney want to be the new Facebook for kids. They are buying ‘togetherville’ which is a social platform for children of ten and under. Sounds like the worst idea eve so far right? But it seems that the children who log on will only be able to connect with the children of their parents friends, the adults will see the content before the children are exposed to it so it should avoid all of the controversy that’s been kicked up concerning the adult site and how adults behave toward one another there.
While parents are advised to not to let their children log onto the internet in private if they suspect that their child is not responsible enough to deal with the communication that Facebook and Bebo for example allow, Togetherville profiles are built by the parents for their children, it doesn’t support advertising thus far and should it then the complications of avoiding advertising directly to children can be avoided by advertising to the parents when they preview the messages that their child’s network are sending and receiving.
On Togetherville’s about page they say:
“Togetherville mimics adult social networks in a kid-appropriate way. Each neighbourhood is built around each specific child and remains closed to outsiders. Kids have their own profile pages, complete with their photos.
To keep your child safe in Togetherville, we give you complete control over the kids – and grownups – who interact with them online.
Grownups have their own login page and parents have full access to their child’s activity at any time, from any location.”
Disney’s CEO Bob Iger told last weeks’ investor conference that Disney would be investing more in social media and create more franchises that would allow their Interactive Media Group to become a more profitable beast in 2013 since it’s currently expected to make a loss of $164 million for 2011.
The move into social media has come after the policy of entering into the realm of console based video games didn’t get the kind of returns that the company wanted, they have however also purchased Playdom which is a social media gaming organisation and Tapulous, a mobile music making mobile game developer.
When parents sign up to Togetherville they have to do so via Facebook so that their credentials can be checked and verified and the messages that children can send and receive are pre-written.