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.