Disney has ordered the closure of all unauthorized Club Penguin clones after it was revealed some players have been using the platform to share explicit and abusive messages.
An investigation by the BBC into the unofficial Club Penguin Online reboot, which recently boasted of having over 7 million players, found the platform was riddled with racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and sexually explicit language.
During its 12 years of operations, the original Club Penguin became a popular social hangout for children and teens, and was purchased by Disney in 2007 as part of a $700 million deal before being shut down in 2017.
While the original title employed content filters and moderators to prevent inappropriate messages and personal information from being shared, the fan-made “recreation” Club Penguin Online has failed to effectively utilize similar measures.
According to the BBC, which created accounts on the English, Spanish, and Portuguese versions of Club Penguin Online, content filters were often disabled on multiple servers, allowing abusive language to be posted freely, and moderators has stopped removing racist content.
Players were also found to be engaging in “penguin e-sex” by sending explicit messages, and had been spotted adverting off-site Zoom meetings.
Brand owner Disney said it was “appalled” by the allegations, and said it would be enforcing its rights against all unauthorized versions of the game.
“Child safety is a top priority for the Walt Disney Company and we are appalled by the allegations of criminal activity and abhorrent behavior on this unauthorized website that is illegally using the Club Penguin brand and characters for its own purposes,” said Disney in a statement.
“We continue to enforce our rights against this, and other, unauthorized uses of the Club Penguin game.”
At the time of writing, the Club Penguin Online website is offline, and the BBC reports that one person involved with the running of the site has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child abuse images.