Second Life News: Linden Lab’s Changes To Adult Content Angers Residents

March 18th, 2009  |  Published in Second Life News  |  3 Comments

by Avarie Parker

On March 12, 2009, Linden Labs announced they were taking steps to protect residents from unsolicited adult content. The lengthy post by Cyn Linden discusses the motivation behind the upcoming changes and what steps are likely to be taken.  Citing the desire to give SL residents more ‘control’ over their second lives, she stated:

“We believe we can implement a better system than we have now for managing this content — one that is respectful of everyone’s personal preferences, yet does not detract from the creativity and passion that define Second Life.”

The details of the plan are a bit vague but consist of 3 major components:

  • Geographic separation of adult content and activities to a part of the “mainland” designed to accommodate these activities.
  • Filtration of search results, allowing users to remove adult content from Second Life search.
  • Access to ‘adult’ content will require account verification, such as by payment or age validation method.

Linden Lab is looking for resident feedback in hopes of easing residents into the new restrictions. Their main concerns focus on these target areas:

“We have four key guiding principles to work from, and we’d like you to consider them and share your thoughts:
1) We will create clear and consistent definitions of what constitutes adult content, in line with our Community Standards.

2) We will enable easy, reliable, and consistent ways to be able to access content by type – the goal being to ensure that Residents can choose what they want to see, purchase and experience.
3) We will implement effective Resident services and dialog to ensure that those who provide Adult goods or services can continue their activities without long-term disruption or loss of business.
4) We will implement account verification systems that provide an additional level of assurance for providers of Adult content that only adults are able to access their content. Such a system might be tied, for instance, to a verified payment method like a credit card, a validation by our age verification provider, or another credible method of validation.”

If you are interested in providing your views on these upcoming changes, Linden Labs has requested residents first read this related article: Adult Oriented Content Controls . Once this has been read, residents are encouraged to voice their opinions and concerns at the forum below:

Many residents have expressed anger at the looming changes and concern over how Linden Lab would define ‘adult’ content. Biman Dastardly had this to say:

“Well, it never fails.  Someone comes up with a GREAT idea and then messes with it until it turns to crap. Why make SL exactly like RL? The appeal here is to have a place where anything goes. If you don’t like something just move on. Until you find something that you like.

I never buy land that isn’t in a Mature sim, so why should I penalized because I have adult content on my land? That is the reason I bought the land in the first place. I have tried to verify my age and the process did not work. I have a money tree on my land and the AV’s coming to it aren’t registered members of SL and wouldn’t know how to get age verified even if they wanted to. What about people who only have basic accounts?

Finally, what is Adult content anyway? How are you going to determine that? This really sucks!”

Many long-standing residents are angered at the prospect of moving from the virtual land they own due to their desire to display nudity.  Lotte Twilight, SL land owner for 5 years, offers: “Having been a long-time resident on a mature parcel, I strongly resent being informed that displaying my creative work in my build (which focuses almost exclusively on erotic imagery) would forcibly oust me from my land.”

Several residents also threatened to leave SL once and for all if they felt their privacy was being violated.  Tooley Kanarek would rather leave SL than provide personal data:

“If some sort of age verification that requires me to provide personal details or credit card info on the Net does get implemented – it’s goodbye SL.  I’ll find somewhere else that doesn’t seek to impose standards on me that I don’t agree with.”

The pending changes are sure to drive some residents from the virtual world where freedom of expression has always been the major attraction. The question is: will the changes attract new users currently not using the virtual platform due to the graphic content? It’s likely Linden Labs are looking to increase the platform’s appeal for large businesses and brands looking to capitalize on the power of virtual world technology. It’s no secret that some corporations consider rogue adult content a major obstacle to doing serious business. Linden Labs will have to proceed with caution in hopes of not paying too steep a price for going mainstream.


  1. Estaban Graves says:

    March 19th, 2009at 6:45 am(#)

    This is a move I think SL needed to make to draw in more users. The pattern of adoption by businesses (this is an entrepreneurship blog right?) and educational organizations was stalling because of the fear that potential patrons might come across adult content as they meant to visit more legitimate content.

    Is it puritanic to fear ‘adult content’ – maybe, and it’s not for me to judge what is / is not adult content, but if SL is to recognize it’s potential, this is the kind of model that I think we’re going to need.

    Linden knew it would create some hardship, but to not make the move meant much great hardship to the balance of the population by not moving to attract new users to the environment.

  2. Khrys Kanto says:

    March 19th, 2009at 7:53 am(#)

    Overall, Linden has made a good move. There are plenty of adult/explicit sites on the web. That is not necessarily the environment you want to find in SL. Just like racier magazines are usually behind the counter in stores, this is the same approach Linden appears to be taking. Basically, if you want that stuff, you know where to find it. If you do not, you should not have to see it.

  3. kevin collins says:

    March 31st, 2009at 6:35 am(#)

    oh great….what happened to…for the people…by the people…a great speech by some american (yes I know who) …im british and the thought of sl being one big commercial is too much…everyone i speak to enjoys sl just as it is….sounds like its going to be a dictatorship to me…a few guys in sanfransisco sweeping the life of sl under the carpet. is it a democracy or have the people who run this place taken the wad of cash from business? seems we created this place..and they take the credit and the money..when will it be sold for a lot of money to the chinese. watch this space…if there is anyone left to read it….will the last person to leave sl kindly turn off the lights.