Barbie Video Girl — a version of the iconic doll that features a tiny video camera on her front and a small screen on her back — may be one of the odder gifts of the holiday season. One tech blogger calls it "the creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life" and "child abuse waiting to happen." And the FBI is warning that the video-enabled doll could be used by pedophiles to make kiddie porn. According to an FBI memo mistakenly released to the press late last week, the feds are concerned about the doll "being used as anything other than intended." Toy-maker Mattel says it knows of no cases of abuse involving the doll, but should the FBI and parents really be concerned over this bit of child's play? (Watch a Miami Herald review of the doll)
Yes, there is cause for concern: Video Girl Barbie is "not at all" safe, says Regina Avalos in Gather. Sure, if it's used exclusively in your home, "there is no issue." But the reality is most kids are shuffled from school to day care to friends to babysitters, and parents do not know what they're doing 24/7. If this Barbie fell into the hands of "someone looking to do harm," it would not be safe. Kids could be filmed using the Barbie's tiny camera and they wouldn't even know it. That's "scary, but true."
"FBI warning: Video Girl Barbie could be used by pedophiles and other predators"
Come on, this is overblown: While "I can see how a pedophile might buy one of these dolls and try to use it to lure in and secretly record little girls," says Sandy Mapple in Babble, I don't think it's a problem for a child to have one of these "cool" dolls of her own. Maybe I'm "missing something," but "unless you've got a pedophile living in your house, I don’t see what there is to be frightened of."
"FBI warns about Barbie Video Girl"
The FBI should worry about something else: "Is Barbie really going to cause child porn to soar?" asks Anna North in Jezebel. The FBI is overreacting and focusing on the wrong stuff. "I think most child porn is made without the nefarious use of camera-dolls, and we'd probably be better off working against human trafficking than freaking out about Barbie."
"FBI warns new Barbie could film child porn"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- 10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2014
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- How the West produces jihadi tourists
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- The big policy question libertarians can't answer
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
Subscribe to the Week