LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) —Don’t be alarmed, but Mickey Mouse and Uncle Sam may want to “friend” your child.
Two of the world’s most powerful corporations — The Walt Disney Co. and the United States — are throwing their respective hats into the social networking ring with plans to expand their reach to one of the fastest-growing demographics in the world.
The Walt Disney Co. acquired children’s social network Togetherville on Thursday for an undisclosed sum, as part of its strategy of more investments in social and mobile companies and less in creating console-based video games.
Togetherville, aimed at children aged 6 to 10, allows users to interact with the children of their parents’ friends on Facebook. They can play games, watch videos, send pre-selected messages to their friends or have their comments vetted before being published.
The acquisition follows Disney’s purchases of social gaming company Playdom for $563 million and mobile music game maker Tapulous last year.
The company would not say how many people work at Togetherville or how many members it has.
Meanwhile, a new contract from the U.S. Air Force aims at developing new software to creating “fake people” on Facebook and other popular networking sites.
The “Persona Management Software” would enable government agencies to establish multiple personality profiles on social networking sites, a move that “protects the identity of government agencies and enterprise organizations”.
In addition, the proposed software provides a static IP address for each created persona that gives the presence of U.S. officials frequenting any one particular site the ability “to easily switch IP addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization”.
While the vendor solicitation doesn’t specifically address the software’s real-word applications, recently leaked emails from private security firm HBGary reveal some potential uses, which include mining personal data cross-referenced across various social networks “to gain access to these individuals social circles”.
The emails also point out vulnerabilities in online privacy, noting that “when choosing to participate in social media an individual is only as protected as his/her weakest friend.”
In addition to MacDIll AFB in Florida, the contract states that other locations where the software would be used include Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq.
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