Odd girls’ space: Barbiegirls.com

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On Wired’s Underwire Blog, Danah Boyd shares some thoughts on BarbieGirls, a new (and scary!) online space for girlie girls. Two things struck me as odd. First, the whole thing is just so Barbie-esque (i.e. odd & weird & pink), and personally, I find the whole gender aspect of it more than just slightly nauseating.

But second, there’s something odd about their privacy/security measures. (See section “message to parents” on the website.) Obviously, as a space for really young girls, it’s a no-brainer to try to create a safe & child-friendly environment. But to have your employees monitor the “Secret B Chat” which ” occurs only in a girl’s room and is only available to “best friends”? Also, word filters are used, it seems, a bit enthusiastically:

Girls can only use words we’ve selected, approved, and compiled in our database, and no exchange of personal information is allowed.

Come on, you’ve got to be kidding: A positive word list, which actively lists all the words that are allowed? Or is it just a regular bad word filter that takes out a few dozen offensive words, but won’t really stop any kid from talking about what they want exactly in the words they want?

I realize I’m not the target demographic. But this is odd.

44 comments

  • Hey i just wanted to say that the site is cool but i agree about the swearing people dont have the right words in mind they just want to swear because they want to fit in with the crowd.

  • hi pit – even though you are right, we are not the target group, i have to say i really enjoyed your review – never heard of a positive wordlist as well – surely there was a project manager who has no idea whatsoever and took some ‘precautious’ measures…

  • hi! could someone tell me how to get into rooms? i’ve tried by clicking the “map” and clicking “rooms” , but it says “no rooms availabe” . could someone help me? please

  • Hm. Not to offend anyone. but: seriously, how many of you are paid by Mattel/Barbie? Just being curious about Mattel’s approach to PR blogging?

  • Having designed toys and play experiences for Mattel and having gone to L.A. to visit their HQ, I can tell you that what you perceive as something odd, in L.A. sadly, isn’t. They conduct a large amount of user testing which is kinda scary to think that there are people and kids who will go for the ultra kitch and pink stuff. Californian kids and tweens are decidedly different from the rest of America as well. So I wouldn’t be surprised if they are catering to “concerned parents” with these ridiculous privacy measures.

  • Hi Alex,

    It’s not so much the pink-ish stuff that I perceive as odd, but rather the whole positive word list – if the wording there was correct, it’d mean that there’s a list of just, what, 1.000 words or so that are allowed to use. How would that work in a conversation, particularly with young kids who use all kinds of colloquialisms? (Although I’d suspect that one of the marketing people just got the wording wrong and they mean a regular bad word filter, which takes out swear words according to a bad word list.)

    But yeah, I guess you’re right, Californian kids are socialized somewhat differently ;)

    Thanks for your feedback. Got settled down a little? Sounds like you’ve been on the road a lot lately…

    Cheers, P.

  • Im very tired because I can’t go there because it says that you guys are busy

  • Hi! I really don’t like barbie, but i tried out barbiegirls and i felt like i should throw my computer to get that junnk off my stupid screen.

  • What is the special code??????????????????????????????????? I love verry much this website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ya bu siten bazenleri sapıtıyo ama üye olunca içinde çok güzel bir oyun var ya ben o oyunnu çok beyendimm

  • I thought it was fun but it never works anymore. I thought I was going to explode when for the hundrenth time it did not work. now I think it’s plain stupid. and plus, why can’t we talk to people if they are undefined? I suggest Pokemoncrater.com. it’s more fun and exciting. you can even get your own pokemon.

  • hey i nlike barbie but i love the bratz the are much cooler and have prefect fashion sense and im only 9 wow.i love the game but how do you get into rooms

  • does anyone now and secret codes to barbiegirls.com they have pretty things but it wont let you have them you have to own a barbie girl mp3 player i think it sucks you have to pay 59.99 just for one to unlock everything at barbie girls .com

  • hey i think this website ,when i say this website i mean barbiegirls -is -fun but it has its down sides i mean half the time you cant go to Furni-fever or the b-cafe or the cinima or any of the other rooms and you can never go to the park cuse it is always full wich i think they should limit the people that log in because that is why i only go on late at night cuse thats when most people are sleepin in america and you can go every where even the park its cooler after dark .and i know why you cant go to any bodys room cuse once again you have to own a barbie girl mp3 player which is stupid because then you cant have most of the clothes that they have. oh and i wanna know what the b girls boutique looks like it looks awesome but i cant go in it because i dont like barbie so i do not own a b girl mp3 i cant wate tell they get the BETA work over with so i can see the new and improved barbie girls .com oh and the way you get into barbie girls is to go to barbie.com and once you get to the homepge click on the lap top peace out and keep rocken on.

  • The website is pretty good,but weird boys pretend to be girls on it.You can report people,and some just report you because you wont be their friend!!

  • Its not fair!Sometimes they are full because new girls came along!First come first served i think.Anyway,sometimes when you click on any shop,it wont let you go in.And i cant belive you have to have a barbie mp3 to go to the best places!Excuse the languge but it freakin bugs so much when it is “ful”.And you cant get into the rooms!!I have to say,in Barbies defense,it is and awesome website,but with a couple of changes,it could be super dee duper!:)p.s.my rating out of 10=3.Everybody give your ratings!!

  • i luv the barbie girls site but i do think it’s mean that you need a barbie girl to go into rooms and into the best places. also you have to have a barbie girl to unlock the cool hair styles, jewlery, and clothes! and half the time i can’t get in or my computer can’t find the site, it drives me crazy!!! Barbie i love your site but you should get it fixed.