ThinkMTV, which launched in beta, is financially backed by several large partners, such as the Case Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation, and MCJ Amelior Foundation.
Various pop culture icons, nonprofit organizations, and civic organizations are using or plan to use the social networking site to encourage young people to speak out about issues that affect them. They include organizations like the United Nations, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Strong American Schools, as well as celebrities like Bono, Shakira, and John Legend.
MTV said it will reward members that use the site "to do good" with opportunities to meet celebrities, get access to exclusive MTV events, and get exposure on MTV and other national media outlets. Additional benefits include grants and scholarships.
Members are encouraged to use different multimedia tools to engage and educate others about important issues, including cell phones, online forums, broadband video, and digital cameras. In fact, multimedia is a key component of the social networking site. It's comprised of videos, blogs, socially-conscious video games, podcasts, and news reports.
ThinkMTV also offers a "Think Tank" feature, where members can sort issues by interests, skills, or geography to advance the issues locally or globally.
MTV claims its social networking site is unique from other online communities, since content posted on the site will get exposure on MTV's other sites, mobile platform, and the MTV network.
ThinkMTV is part of Viacom's recently-launched social networking initiative called Flux Network. Flux is an open platform that lets bloggers add community-related tools to their sites.
It's still too early to tell if ThinkMTV will achieve the same popularity as other social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace. While ThinkMTV's purpose is to empower youth and help them speak out about issues related to politics, health, and education, social networking sites have been criticized for exposing youth to danger.
Earlier this year, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said that MySpace contained more than 29,000 sex offender profiles. MySpace defended itself, saying it's committed to deleting sex offenders from the site. MTV must be prepared to deal with a similar challenge.