Monday, 4 June 2007

Who's afraid of Linden Wolf ?

An awful lot has already been said and written about Daniel Linden's by now almost mythical blog post "Keeping Second Life Safe, Together". It came in reaction to a German TV report about child porn and sexual age play on the grid that raised more than a few eyebrows. I don't intend to rehash all the points made and questions raised already, but I do wonder what Linden Labs hoped to achieve with this blog post. Clearly they must have anticipated a lot of residents would be outraged and opposition would be fierce. The announcement was also deliberately vague. Who is going to define "broadly offensive and potentially illegal" in a metaverse that spans continents, countries, cultures, age groups and so on?

So I wondered "why did they do it and why this way?" Legally the statement by Daniel has no meaning and even then, according to what law? US law because they are US based? What about the rest of the world? Of course, by posting this blog they can say they tried to do something but still it doesn't hold water. At first I thought they were just trying to buy time while an army of lawyers was examining their options, but to me it's more and more clear they just can't regulate everything. Out with the lawyers... Did they do it to escape a bad rap in the press? I don't think so, there are far better ways to do that. Then why?

I think a perverse and frankly broadly offensive game is being played. It's called "scare tactics". It goes like this: first you make a vague statement people can and will be punished for certain actions you don't define properly. Next, watch how people who don't want to lose land, money, friends, whatever start to steer clear from what they think might be interpreted as "broadly offensive". Now ain't that grand! You don't have to tell people what they shouldn't do anymore. They will do it for you. So what's next? Close a few sims, ban a few people and make sure you properly reinforce the whole idea? I call that scare tactics and an easy way out to say the least.

Apart from this being intellectually very unfair, it is also a very dangerous game as it will not affect those die hards that will continue to peddle truly illegal content. They will just be a little more careful but in the mean time Joe Blow's innocent kinky fun is ruined.

Thank you Linden Labs.

My advice? Don't give in ... enjoy SL as you always have.


Phoenix Ellsberg said...

Hear, hear!

vint said...

I like the advice... =) (And you say they have no legal 'paw' to stand upon, but according the ToS they can still ban whomever they thing should be banned...)

Loki said...

A US court has ruled that the ToS is insufficient reason for not allowing people to sue LL for damages if their account has been terminated on the grounds the ToS is too one-sided.

In other words, even if you are thrown out for blatant violations of ToS you can still sue LL for damages. See the links in my previous post ;-)

All this doesn't mean they can't throw you out, but it might end up being pretty costly on their part if everyone actually sues.

Tiana Meriman said...

i think Linden Lab actually has no plans at all. they are just totally panicking because of the bad press they got and are now just doing everything they can to save face without thinking of the consequences.

myg said...

I was going to say "here here" too! If we can't live on the edge in a virtual world, what good is it?