Disney forced a clone of 'Club Penguin' to shut down after an investigation found it was rife with explicit messages and penguin 'e-sex'

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Disney forced a clone of 'Club Penguin' to shut down after an investigation found it was rife with explicit messages and penguin 'e-sex'
Fan-run versions of "Club Penguin" have flourished during the pandemic.NachozRule/Reddit
  • A BBC investigation found "Club Penguin Online," a fan-run clone of Disney's "Club Penguin" was full of explicit messages, penguin "e-sex," and offensive language.
  • The original "Club Penguin" shut down in 2017, but fan-run versions of the game have kept it alive.
  • One man involved in running one of the most popular copies has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child abuse images, the BBC reports.
  • Disney served copyright notices to clones following the investigation, and one of the largest appears to have been shut down.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Disney's lawyers have shut down an unofficial clone of its well-loved social network "Club Penguin" after a BBC investigation found it was rife with hateful messages and penguin avatars engaging in "e-sex."

The original Disney-run version of "Club Penguin" shut down in 2017, but fan-run clones of the game have given it a second life. One the biggest clones, "Club Penguin Online," said it experienced a huge surge in users thanks to the coronavirus pandemic driving people inside, bringing its numbers up to 7 million.

The BBC created accounts for the English, Spanish and Portuguese versions of the site and found it was a far cry from the family-friendly wholesomeness associated with "Club Penguin." Filters for offensive and bigoted language had been disabled, and the BBC found numerous instances of users sending messages with racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic language. In one instance a user had decorated their igloo to spell out the n-word.

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The BBC also found users engaging in what it termed penguin "e-sex," sending each other explicit messages.

One 14-year-old user told the BBC they had had uncomfortable experiences in some of the more mature areas of the game. "I've seen people advertise strip club igloos, I've seen people ask for pimps. There's a lot of swearing on there and I've been asked a lot of crazy things. It's really put me off going on these mature servers," he said.

Another teenage player told the BBC the game had "gone from being family-friendly and fun to being monstrous."

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The site is mostly maintained by volunteers, and the BBC reports that a London-based man involved in running "Club Penguin Online" has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child abuse images.

Disney steps in

Following the BBC's investigation, Disney issued copyright notices to all clones of the game, including "Club Penguin Online."

"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. We continue to enforce our rights against this, and other, unauthorized uses of the Club Penguin game," Disney said in a statement.

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Club Penguin Online went offline on May 15 according to the BBC, and was still not accessible on as of this writing.

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