MTV Launches Pro-Social Site Think.MTV

MTV will launch a pro-social online social-networking site Thursday designed to encourage and enable its young viewers to get involved in public service.

The site, Think.MTV, is starting in beta form with financial backing from the Case Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Goldhirsch Foundation and the MCJ Foundation.

Designed to incorporate popular features from online communities, such as MySpace and Friendster, Think.MTV will let users join "Think Tank" communities around common pro-social interests and publish photo and video content about their own efforts.

MTV is hoping to leverage the power of its brand and linear TV outlets to give its viewers incentive to use the site. In exchange for submitting video, users can win prizes like tickets to the Video Music Awards, as well as having their footage chosen for incorporation in MTV programming on TV.

The site will launch with advertisements from major corporations -- initially only those designed to promote those companies' own public-affairs efforts, said Ian Rowe, MTV's head of public affairs.

For completing service projects, the site will award users "Action Badges," digital Boy Scout-esque patches that users can collect and virtually transport to their pages on other sites like Facebook and MySpace.

MTV plans to launch a full version of the site by the end of the year with support from more pro-social groups, each of which potentially could design their own pages within the Think.MTV forum, Rowe said.

MTV launched the site after a year-long research project it conducted, which showed that while more than 80% of young people expressed interest in getting involved in public affairs, only 19% actually took action.