September 12th, 2006

Xanga Pays Big Fine, Plans to Adopt ESRB-like Content Ratings

There are ratings for movie, video games, music, T.V., and soon, perhaps, for social networking sites?

Could be, in the wake of a million dollar fine levied against Xanga. The popular site was charged by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal data on kids under 13 and in turn using that information for targeted marketing.

As reported by MediaPost, the FTC charged Xanga, especially popular among adolescents, with creating nearly two million accounts for users under the age of 13. The FTC complaint reads in part:

"For each of these accounts, the defendants collected, used, and disclosed personal information from children under age 13... the defendants marketed, and in at least two instances sold, targeted banner ad space on Xanga.com to advertisers based on the personal information... provided by such children."
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Left Behind Bad Investment, Says Analyst

While the upcoming Christian-themed video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces is expected to be a big seller during the holiday season, at least one Wall Street expert thinks investing in the game's publisher could be a deadly sin.

MarketWatch columnist Chuck Jaffe has picked Left Behind Games as a "Stupid Investment of the Week."

Jaffe terms Left Behind Games (OTC: LFBG) "an interesting microcap stock," but adds that current valuations are "sketchy" and lack adequate financial data.
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Game Developer Hears From Video Game Bill Sponsor

Utah Congressman Jim Matheson (D, seen at left), is the sponsor of the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act, currently pending in the House. Matheson has corresponded (okay, a form letter, but still...) with Jay Barnson of Rampant Games.

Unhappy with elected official's response, Jay blogged extensively about his exchange with Rep. Matheson. It's especially noteworthy, coming as it does, from the perspective of a small-studio game developer. Here are some highlights:

"Yesterday I received a snail-mail letter from Congressman Jim Matheson, who represents my state of Utah... For the most part, it reiterates the same rhetoric being bandied about in defense of the laws that are being enacted (and, so far, universally shot down as being Unconstitutional)... It contains some major inaccuracies and rather offensive comparisons..."
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