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Adult content changes for Second Life part of a larger phased deployment

Tateru Nino

Linden Lab held a "PG definition reach-out" session on Monday morning, as a part of its ongoing refit of content ratings in Second Life, the addition of an adult rating and an adult continent and so forth.

One of the more curious things about the session is that no discussion of the definition of PG actually took place. Maybe the title of the session was just misleading, or we were just a bit optimistic. A large chunk of the discussion involved basics that have been rehashed over and over. Skins don't count as photorealistic nudity, for example, but there are a few interesting takeaways, nonetheless.

Of particular interest is that the changes currently in progress only constitute the first phase of the changes. Linden Lab refers to future phases of the process. How much more there is to come is only alluded to.

The ratings PG and Mature will not retain those names going forward. When they are changing is uncertain, however. It is slated for the as-yet-unspecified "phase 2".

This is hardly surprising. Linden Lab's use of "PG" doesn't conform to the definitions commonly in use for the term anywhere in the world, and additionally clashes with the MPAA motion picture ratings trademark of the same name.

General Counsel, Marty Roberts: "In phase two, we will probably change what we call PG and M to something that's more descriptive. We're happy to take any suggestions that you have. AO is pretty obvious [Most Second Life users would immediately think of AO as Animation Overrider, rather than the intended Adults Only -- Tat], but M and PG, what we mean by it are unique to Second Life. And so we want to come up with new phrases to describe. So that will be part of phase two and that, believe it or not, involves a technical change that's not as easy as it might be."

Linden Lab also acknowledges that it's fairly easy to verify your account with information that is not your own, but it's mostly acknowledged as a fact of life. It isn't something that can be fixed online any more than in the physical world, where such things appear to be fairly rampant.

So, while age-verification will put a speed-bump in the process, it mostly keeps honest people honest. Minors intending to deceive the system can likely do so as readily as any other age-verification system that exists, in Second Life or anywhere else.

As for Linden Lab's secret list of words that will prevent results from appearing in non-adult searches, the Lab is unwilling to indicate what benefit keeping the list secret will have for either users or for the Lab. As it is, any suitably motivated user can obtain the current list by launching a simple dictionary probe against the search-servers, and can likely obtain a current copy of the amorphous and evolving list far faster than Linden Lab could provide one, even if they were willing to do so.

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