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Sunday, 28 February 2010

When Linden Lab act like a corporation...

Profit before People

Advice for activists

What we as activists should remember is that Linden Lab is essentially a corporation. No matter how woolly liberal they may seem, the fact is, the corporate image is all, as this effects profit – the driving force for any corporation. For us to demand “fair virtual laws” is to demand McDonalds is slightly more ethical in its cow killing. McDonalds can claim to be more ethical (using local cows etc), but it cannot be fully ethical because of the demand from shareholders for ever increasing profit and the pressure to “bigger”, to quote Dr Suess. The only ways within capitalist society to change a company completely, is to own a majority of shares or create a campaign that affects the profit of the company.

Linden Lab, therefore, does not protect the rights of the user – the customer – and it never will in this profit driven world. The rights of the corporation come first. And this creates many problems for those of us using the Second Life platform as a means to create educational content/ events on matters across the left activist spectrum. From our stances on anti-fascism through to the “normalisation” of the use of the feminine form as a target for physical abuse, those who disagree with us can easily dampen our effectiveness. This has been shown from the use of a new griefing method – that is, the reporting of activists for heinous acts such as sexual child play when nothing of the sort has taken place. Linden Labs response to this type of report is to ban first and investigate later, which can mean that an activist, unless prepared, can be out of action on Second Life for between 48-72 hours (according to the LL TOS). Linden Lab, in it’s profit driven corporatist world, can do no less- regardless of how damaging and distressing this is to the person who has been maliciously maligned. They do not have the financial capacity or man power to investigate every report – and they as a corporation cannot afford publicity that may say “Linden Lab allow Child Play Porn go on Unimpeded” because they are investigating first and banning after this. Corporate image is all.
I have been thinking of a number of preventative measures activists can take to ensure this does not happen to them – or at the very least does not impede their SL effectiveness.

1 Create an alt. This alt should have access to all of your important groups and perhaps even have shared ownership of any activist groups you set up. Use this alt for protest etc.

2 Do not accept TP’s from people you do not know – or have small experience of. Back in 2007, a newspaper reporter sent me a TP which I accepted and I found myself in a media SL sim in a room with the reporter and the leader of the French Front National for a double interview. I had to make my excuses and leave, as there was no way I was going to legitimise the FN by talking to them in an interview that was to appear in a rl newpaper.

3 If you are using AU, do not join clubs people invite you to without knowing anything about them.

4 Make sure your chatlog is saved on your computer. Now and again, save it all to an external hard-drive/pen drive/disk.

5 Ensure as soon as you find yourself banned, you submit a ticket. This will force LL to investigate, though this means that they will be going through your chatlogs.

6 Find out the nearest LL office to you… in UK there are a few. Phone them. Ask them for the information on your file. If there are issues that don’t seem to be being dealt with, in the UK, the information held by Linden Lab comes under the Data Protection Act. A complaint can be made through the Information Commissioner’s Office http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/data_protection.aspx Remember, LL have the right to time to reply. Though it is valid to say that if a serious allegation has been made and appears on a file held by LL, you have the right to access to the information leading up to that allegation.

If anyone would like to add to this regarding their country and their rights, please comment!

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