• 31May

    Linden Lab’s latest move into the realm of censorship violates and contradicts their own Community Standards in both word and spirit. Read on, after the fold.

    Daniel Linden writes:

    [O]ur community has made it clear to us that certain types of content and activity are simply not acceptable in any form. Real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depiction of sexual or lewd acts involving or appearing to involve children or minors; real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of sexual violence including rape, real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of extreme or graphic violence, and other broadly offensive content are never allowed or tolerated within Second Life.

    The title of his post is telling: “Keeping Second Life Safe, Together”—that is, keeping it safe from anything that a sufficient number of people find “icky”. This confirms previous suspicions that Linden Lab is ramping up as a new Censor: the keeper of the public morality for this grand virtual empire of theirs.

    You’ve probably heard the phrase “broadly offensive behavior” uttered by Linden Lab before, in the Community Standards (all emphasis mine):

    5. Indecency

    Second Life is an adult community, but Mature material is not necessarily appropriate in all areas (see Global Standards below). Content, communication, or behavior which involves intense language or expletives, nudity or sexual content, the depiction of sex or violence, or anything else broadly offensive must be contained within private land in areas rated Mature (M). Names of Residents, objects, places and groups are broadly viewable in Second Life directories and on the Second Life website, and must adhere to PG guidelines.

    Those with keen eyes will notice that the Community Standards say here that such “broadly offensive behavior” must be “contained within private land in areas rated Mature”—not that such behavior is absolutely prohibited. Let it not be said that utter prohibition has always been the policy of Linden Lab—this is a distinct change in the winds.

    In addition to a new stricter stance against things they don’t like to think about, Linden Lab has overturned two foundational tenets of the Community Standards: tolerance and privacy.

    1. Intolerance

    Combating intolerance is a cornerstone of Second Life’s Community Standards. Actions that marginalize, belittle, or defame individuals or groups inhibit the satisfying exchange of ideas and diminish the Second Life community as whole. The use of derogatory or demeaning language or images in reference to another Resident’s race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation is never allowed in Second Life.

    Gone are the days of “combating intolerance”. The new fashion is to embrace and revel in it. As Daniel Linden wrote, these objectionable behaviors are “never allowed or tolerated within Second Life”.

    4. Disclosure

    Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Lives. Sharing personal information about a fellow Resident –including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, and real-world location beyond what is provided by the Resident in the First Life page of their Resident profile is a violation of that Resident’s privacy. Remotely monitoring conversations, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without consent are all prohibited in Second Life and on the Second Life Forums.

    It seems that it is no longer a violation of privacy to spy on your neighbors and report them if they are having kinky sex in their own skybox 700m above the ground. Far from it, such snooping is now a civic duty, as Daniel Linden indicates in his twisted call for Residents to make Second Life a “welcoming space” by shunning anyone they disagree with:

    Please help us to keep Second Life a safe and welcoming space by continuing to notify Linden Lab about locations in-world that are violating our Community Standards regarding broadly offensive and potentially illegal content.

    We can come only to the somber conclusion that Second Life is no longer the bastion of liberty and free expression that it once was.

    Posted by Jacek Antonelli @ 11:12 pm

5 Responses

  • SecondLife - How To Make Money In Second Life » Our world, our rules. Says:

    [...] Jacek Antonelli [...]

  • Erbo Evans Says:

    I’m thinking LL is realizing that its original Community Standards wouldn’t keep it from being raked over the coals by politicians and law-enforcement authorities, the way MySpace was. So they caved to a certain extent. But the alternative would have been worse, IMHO…get RL politicians in the biz of micromanaging SL content, and nothing good could possibly come of it.

  • Keeping SL Safe...Or CYA? « Evans Avenue Exit Says:

    [...] the hue and cry has started from multiple quarters. Jacek, for instance, opines: This confirms previous suspicions that Linden Lab is ramping up as a new Censor: the keeper of [...]

  • Despil Korobase Says:

    I actually don’t see if all I can do is sit in a bar, and chat with people – no combat SIMs -, then I could just pick those I really like, share MSN or Yahoo, and go over to Lotro or Dark Age of Camelot, to engage in extreme violence.

    I don’t want to waste money on a 3D chat environment.

  • Triste Bertrand's Blog Says:

    Censorship? really?…

    LL further required that land owners who display such content flag their parcels with an “adults only” flag, and only those who have been voluntarily age-verified would be able to access the area (without indicating how LL would prevent those not a…