Thursday, February 10, 2011

Social Networking and Second Life - I'm Confused

I've been pondering the potential implications of the web-based profiles (for yours, go to now included in 2.5 . The external view doesn't show as much info as it did initially. That information (e.g., groups, partners) caused a lot of consternation - it meant anybody who knew your avatar's name could now find out if you belonged to the Masters Who Get Off On Bullying Helpless Kajiras group, something you might not want your boss to know.

If you are logged inworld you see the full profile on the web which makes sense. What is more problematic is that you have the facility to share the profile on Twitter, Facebook and according to a tweet I saw today, Flickr.

Second Life has a Facebook presence - which is a little wierd. I mean according to the FB TofS Second Life avatars can't have an account using their inworld identity - you have to use your "real" name. So what's the point of sharing an avatar's profile - unless the intent is to link the virtual and the "real"? And what prevents somebody other than yourself doing that?

There is lots of potential for scaremongering here. Unfortunately, until there is more information everything we might say is just speculation.

I do worry about my privacy. I do worry about information about "me" being available without my express permission. I have a set of boundaries and expect that Linden Lab will respect them. If they don't then I have the option of leaving.

I interrupt this blog post for a mini rant:

For the record, my concerns are not because "people in their 50's don't understand technology" which is a phrase I've encountered more and more frequently of late. One unlamented ex-Linden used it to explain the resistance to V2 which only convinced me (using V2 at the time) that he had a big mouth but very little working brain. People my age have seen more internet technology come and go than those who consider Facebook their natural habitat. I think the difference between generations might be that we apply some level of critical thinking to new applications. But of course I could be wrong. :)

I read a study earlier which referenced findings that people who reveal all their secrets in social networking locations, such as FB, are convinced that only their friends will read it. An additional finding was that 42% of students who use FB think it is an invasion of their privacy for potential employers to look at their information and 64% said employers should not consider Facebook profiles during the hiring process.

Let me just suggest that if you're going to walk naked down the street you should not be surprised if the world stares and it's foolish to accuse people who gawk at you of invading your privacy.

end of rant

The point of this blog post is that I don't know what the Lab's intentions are. I've seen no clear articulated strategy for the relationship between Second Life and the rest of the internet - social networking in particular. It is almost impossible to reverse-engineer a strategy from tactical decisions. However, in the absence of a communicated strategy there will be endless opportunity for speculation and "the sky is falling" pronouncements from all of us.

As anxious as I am to know what's going on, I suggest we attempt to be patient and hope for clarity. In the meantime, consider this a poke at Linden Lab requesting some kind of coherent statement and if no clear strategy exists - then please, stop the tactical implementations until you know the direction they're supposed to support.


Miso Susanowa said...

Oh I agree wholeheartedly - see my minirants on other blogs. "Transparency" has too-often been a one-way street - "They" can gather my data, aggregate it and sell it to each other left and right, but I am not allowed to see the other way...

LMAO at "employers shouldn't be allowed to browse your FB profile" - this convinces me that anyone spouting this "philosophy" is very young and incredibly naive :)FB is NOT your seekrit diary to which only you has the key which is kept close to your bosom tucked into your bra so that little brother or Mommy doesn't find out your innermost heartfelt seekrits...

You must be old enough to remember the net rule: If you wouldn't post it on a grocery bulletin board for your grandmother to see, don't expect any company or agency to respect your "right to privacy" and control over your data when you toss it onto the internet.

Honour McMillan said...

:) I do remember that net rule.
I also remember the advice we'd give to business people - if you wouldn't want to see it on the front page don't do it. Well now there are people doing the broadcasting themselves and still expect no consequences.
Guess we're just old farts who don't understand. :)

Opensource Obscure said...

Disclaimer: I don't use Facebook, I don't have an account there and I'm heavily critic of their privacy approach. What follows should apply to Facebook the same way it applies to Twitter or Flickr (where I do have an account).

Honour asked:

So what's the point of sharing an avatar's profile - unless the intent is to link the virtual and the "real"?

1) Sharing a profile on Facebook (I think you meant the "Connections" feature) is an option.
Part of SL residents don't hide their real name (personally, I hide it), and at the same time they use Facebook.
For them, this is a useful feature.
For the rest of us, it doesn't do any damage as it won't link the virtual and the "real" in any way.

Honour also asked:

And what prevents somebody other than yourself doing that?

Without this feature, anybody could add a link inside the text of their SL profile and claim they own a certain Facebook profile, and there wouldn't be any means to tell if that's true.
Instead, by using this feature, that supports authentication, a SL user can certificate that she is the legit owner of a certain Facebook profile.
This may be completely useless for me or you - but without doubts, it can be appreciated by the many SL users who are on Facebook with their real name.

Miso Susanowa said...

Sorry to double-post but I thought this one germaine to your column :D

Woman Thinks Her Twitter Messages Are Private

Honour McMillan said...

Thanks @Opensource :)

Ok I think understand the first - but I can share your profile on Facebook or Twitter or Flickr - at least the part you are willing to show on the web.
I wouldn't necessarily be trying to say I was you - I could have other reasons for publishing it.
Not that I would :)

Honour McMillan said...

@Miso - that poor deluded woman :(
And there's no post quota :)

Uccie Poultry said...

I don't Facebook or Tweet and my Plurking is on hold, perhaps forever. Aside from privacy issues, social media takes up way too much time. I could be in Second Life doing something rather than writing about it. Which I occasionally do on my blog, where I showed how to change your new Web Profile privacy settings.

strange candy said...

I know this is rezzing an old post, by now, but I found it, and you, because I was pondering some of these very issues, after a survey of LL's today.

To me, the best 'answer' to LL's desire to trend towards social networking with their profiles, is to offer a social-networking site that's based around Second Life, with which to associate itself.

That used to be Avatars United, which I actually used a good amount. But, like some other good things (Onrez, Slex), the Lindens bought them, and shut them down. (Please, don't let them ever purchase Dove, or Blue Bell!)

I'm not the biggest social butterfly in the world, granted, but I would like the option of using a medium that, unlike Facebook, isn't going to be tied also to first-life friends and family.

I've made some family, for all intents and purposes, in Second Life, but I don't want to have to explain the place to my mom-in-law. ;)