Disney spends $4.7 million on 'Club Penguin' online safety campaign

Disney is spending £3 million ($4.7 million) on an internet safety campaign around its massively-multiplayer online game for kids, Club Penguin, the game's co-founder Lane Merrifield announced today.

Disney is spending £3 million ($4.7 million) on an internet safety campaign around its massively-multiplayer online game for kids, Club Penguin, the game's co-founder Lane Merrifield announced today.

The internet safety campaign will target more than 100 million children and parents in Europe, the Middle East and Africa who access its Club Penguin virtual world.

The campaign comes in the wake of Club Penguin's competitor, Habbo Hotel, being accused of failing to ensure the safety of players after pedophiles reportedly used the game to communicate with children. British television network Channel 4 conducted a news investigation that appeared to show that sexualized chat and sexual approaches to young users were common on Habbo Hotel. Several British retailers have since stopped selling Habbo Hotel gift cards with investors 3i and Balderton handing back their stakes in the company.

Club Penguin will be implementing its online safety campaign through advertising space on television channels, websites, magazines, and within Club Penguin and its virtual worlds. Club Penguin co-founder, Lane Merrifield, who is now executive vice president of Disney Online Studios after Disney purchased Club Penguin for $350 million in 2007, announced the initiative today, saying that education is the final piece of the puzzle in terms of kids' safety online.

"From the very start, our vision for Club Penguin was to create a safe place for my kids and their friends to play online," Merrifield said. "The scale may now be bigger than I could ever have imagined but that philosophy has not changed.

"As an industry I think we can help teach kids the lessons that they need to become responsible digital citizens."

Club Penguin is the world's biggest MMO for children, with reportedly more than 175 million accounts created since the game's launch.

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