Friday, May 3, 2024

Linden Lab Updates Terms of Service, Child Avatars Completely Barred From Adult Sims, Now Need "Modesty Layer"

Yesterday on Thursday May 2, residents logging in were told they would have to read and sign an updated Terms of Service. At the same time, there was an announcement in the official blog, "Enhancing Our World Together: Important Updates For The Second Life Community."

Our priority has always been to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all while preserving the freedom of expression that makes our virtual world so special. That’s why we’re working to further enhance the safety and protection of the Second Life platform. These efforts include strengthening some of our community and employee policies as well as evaluating improvements to our age verification process. 

One area of ongoing scrutiny both internally and externally concerns child-presenting avatars. We recognize and want to acknowledge the vibrant community of residents who enjoy roleplaying as such, and we also feel that it is crucial to reinforce our stance that sexualized ageplay is strictly prohibited. Today, we are updating our Child Avatar Policy to ensure a clear separation and to safeguard all community members. We know that this update has the potential to cause confusion or concern in our community, so we’ve prepared an FAQ which we will continue to update as questions come up.

As before, actions of a sexual nature between adult and child avatars (which includes teens and "tweenagers") is strictly forbidden, and will result in being banned. And as before, child avatars are  barred from places that are a clearly adult nature. Also, content intended for child avatars, and this includes teens and "tweens", cannot be of a suggestive manner. There were two additions that are likely to draw at least a few complaints. One was that child avatars cannot enter any sim rated Adult, even if the area itself has no sexual or violent or anything else clearly adult around. Also, the way child avatars are made has to change. While under the old policy genitals were not allowed, under the new one this isn't enough. Even if nothing "bad" shows, child avatars cannot appear nude at all and now need a "modesty layer" in their skin, "Child avatar content creators are required to add a modesty layer which is baked into child avatar skins or bodies, is not transparent, does not match the skin tone, and may not be removed."
The Lab did state, "Merely having a childlike avatar does not violate this policy. It is not our intent to banish childlike avatars in and of themselves." This likely means tiny avatars. 

Later that day, one Relay event would he affected. The Sunbeaver Moon Dance takes place in one of the community sims, and a few years ago, the sim rating had been changed to Adult out of worries that Linden Lab would boot consenting adult avatars from activity done behind closed doors. So when Purple Tears' team captain, Wateru Kohime, showed up, he had to change. 

"So stupid," he would later tell me, "Everyone on an adult sim is supposed to be over 18, who cares what we look like? I could be a dwarf that looks exactly like myself but has a big beard and that's perfectly fine, but shave my face and suddenly I have to go?

"I think the way it was before was perfectly fine. Child avatars are okay on an adult sim as long as nothing 'adult' is going on. That's basically what they want to prevent, so as it stood, the rules already prevented it. Like most rules/laws, it only really affects the people that follow them. The people that want to go and break the rules are still going to go and break the rules."

There is a thread in the official forums about the ToS changes. Reading the first five pages, on the whole, people approved of the changes. One poster would comment, "Think it's Linden Lab just covering their you-know-what.  A lot of people are so sensitive on things nowadays.  As a business owner (a bar) I've noticed how the clientele has changed over the years. I've seen some patrons joking and one threatened a lawsuit on the other.  Old times they would laugh it off.  Same thing here. The Lab has to deal with much more regulation stuff then when Philip started the Lab eons ago." One other person wondered if a few venue owners might start booting out everyone who was short or of a certain body type without checking profiles. A third pointed out because some were tired of reading such a long list of ToS without a clue of what changed and what didn't, the Lab needed to make double certain word was getting around. A fourth worried some might try to abuse the rules, "I can easily see these rules being weaponized by bad actors who have a grudge against, say, anime-style avatars."

What do you the readers think? Please comment below.

Bixyl Shuftan

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