Is Second Life about to become the new Times Square? The virtual world is to be cleaned up, according to reports, allowing those who don't want to see cyberfrottage to remain innocent and untouched.
Legal blog FindLaw finds itself pondering how Second Life creator Linden Lab is going to try to do to take back its virtual world from the virtual fucking, with three widespread moves:
First, it will allow for the geographic separation of adult content and activities to a specific part of the "mainland" for accommodation. Second, it will filter search results. As such, people who do not want to view adult results can choose not to view them. And third, people who do want to access adult virtual content will have their accounts verified to make sure that they are of real world adult age.
For their part, Linden says that the changes aren't censorship, but just trying to improve Second Life for everyone. Interestingly enough, they're seeking Second Lifers' input into what constitutes "adult content":
During the next six weeks, we will seek input from many segments of the Second Life community. We will introduce guidelines and define what "Adult" means, we will explain how to designate and "flag" this content, we will introduce the "Adult Continent," and we will implement technical changes to make this process as efficient as we can.
(Some of the discussions have been archived; you can find them by following the links here.)
However, some - including the Hollywood Reporter's Eriq Gardner - are concerned by the changes... but not for the reason you may think:
The move is being seen in some quarters as a serious step to address some of the problems with the virtual sex trade while also allowing those who are into that sort of thing to still find it in Second Life. And while some might cheer the development, and others might complain that Linden Labs has violated some virtual First Amendment by censoring its users and requiring them to verify their age, we can't help but be a little more cynical. Is it possible that illicit sex in Second Life is being tacitly blessed in the interests of growing the business?
With Second Life's non-sex business possibilities seemingly falling apart, will these changes stop the one-time virtual utopia from becoming just another cyber circle jerk, or are Linden just covering their ass in preparation of things becoming a little hotter over there?