In 2015 Linden Lab announced they would not be developing the “My Second Life” part of the Second Life Website any further.
I think this is a mistake and hope they will change their mind.
I have written about this before but after having FB block my account just recently and it’s been 2 years since LL stopped development, I thought I’d bring it up again.
I think there is a huge need for a social media tool for Second Life residents, a need that the current “My Second Life” (that name really doesn’t work), can’t fulfill.
So countless of us can be found on Facebook, where we find the tools we need even though we know we risk being spotted and have our accounts deleted.
MSL is more like Twitter than like Facebook I reckon, you see few posts with pictures or links and that is about it.
I must confess I never use it.
So lets imagine, Linden Lab FINALLY hires me because I am so brilliant and have answers for everything, am witty, polite, gorgeous and modest.
What would I do to improve MSL?
Integrated chat system
I would add the option to chat with other people via MSL, click their name, choose chat, little window opens and you can talk, in private.
I’d also, here it comes, connect this chat option with chat INWORLD.
Can you imagine?
You want to talk to a friend who is inworld in Second Life and just start chatting with them without having to start your SL viewer or even use a computer, as this would easily work from the browser on your phone or tablet.
I’d give every SL group their own page, a little bit like we now have Places Pages for each parcel.
If you have a group in SL, you automatically get a page.
Here you’ll find information, people can chat on the “wall”, share pictures and above all; there is an event’s calendar.
You and group admins with the right permission, can create events for your group (which generally is also related to a sim, club or community in SL) and all members get an invite, a reminder when the event is about to begin and can accept or decline the invite.
This way on your own page you will also see a calendar with all the events you’ve been invited to.
Now why would LL spend money and time on developing MSL pages?
I think that an improved MSL with some of Facebook’s best features added, would be a good tool to make SL even better.
It will make it easier for residents to build and be part of communities, stay up to date on events that are happening, stay in touch with friends and share their adventures.
They can even be active members of their inworld communities when for some reason their computer stops working (someone buy me a new one!) or they can’t be online (damn those pesky RL jobs), they can chat with friends, share pictures of events, invite friends to events, etc.
All those things that make communities work better an makes it more appealing for people to spend time in SL.
Just look at how much many SL users use Facebook and how many communities in SL have groups there.
There clearly is a need for social media tool with the options FB has but MSL is missing.
On top of that, we could perhaps even connect MSL with the Places Pages!
So please Lindens, take another look at My Second Life and consider adding a few extra tools.
Just a few improvements could be enough for many of us to stop using Facebook, google+, twitter, etc. and start spending way too much time on the SL website.
When Facebook bought Oculus Rift, people laughed or got angry, wondering what kind of VR nightmare would be the result of such a match.
How would they combine social media and VR?
And could it one day become a threat to Second Life?
Yesterday at the Facebook developers conference a very impressive demonstration was given that showed some of what they have in mind.
To me it looks like a lot of fun, a sophisticated and even creative toy but not much more, not yet anyway.
But it shows a lot of potential.
At the moment we have avatars that are only hands and heads in a static, not moving 360° location.
But of course it will only be a matter of time before we can have these experiences in moving and fully interactive 3D locations and with complete and more realistic avatars.
I think I will enjoy this, I can see myself meeting my sister, mother or aunty this way while they are far away.
But with one click a then easily available and cheap 3D camera we can be with each other in the same location.
So will it threaten SL and Sansar?
Yes and no.
It looks like Social VR is going to work and be fun and for lots of people it will be more than enough, it will offer them a VR experience that is easy to use, they’ll enjoy and that will be all they need.
With many improvements and new options coming in the future in a way, it is competition for SL and Sansar.
But as long as they do not give us the amazing and unique freedom to create what we want and be what we want to be that we’re enjoying in Second Life and expecting in Sansar, Linden Lab doesn’t have to worry.
Social VR is going to lower the threshold for millions of people who right now are not (yet) interested in VR, it will be their first experience and maybe it will make them want to see more, experience more… create more?
The golden ticket remains the absolute freedom SL is offering us now, that is what makes it unique.
In short; until I can build 1920s Berlin in Facebook’s Social VR, I won’t be leaving SL.
Facebook is changing the rules on pseudonyms here and there and this may be the beginning of the end of their peculiar real name policy.
To explain the whole situation in one sentence; Facebook wants us all to use our real identities, many of us do not for one reason or another.
The solution; Facebook should create Pseudonym accounts where you get the same account as everyone else except it clearly says pseudonym, so everyone knows you’re not using your real name.
But till Facebook realises this, we’re playing a cat and mouse game.
People make up accounts, someone reports them, Facebook demands identification, if it doesn’t come, they close the account.
For many people this is a very serious issue that can even be related to life threatening situations, for instance imagine someone on the run from an abusive ex or for political reasons who still wants to stay in touch with friends and family.
For us in Second Life the issue is generally a lot less drastic, but one many of us care about nevertheless.
Recently Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, explained that according to German privacy laws, Facebook was not allowed to demand from its users to send their identification or change their profile name.
More about this in my previous blog you can read here (click).
A website called ‘cyberwarcone’ even wrote in this article (click) that Facebook now allows people from Germany and specifically from Hamburg to use pseudonyms or at least use Facebook without identifying themselves, but I am not sure what their source is for this claim.
I think they just repeat what everyone else is saying; Johannes Caspar wants Facebook to follow the German laws but nothing has been officially announced yet.
As far as I can find out, Germany is making demands but Facebook has not yet responded.
While Germany and Facebook were duelling it out over these rules, someone I know but who prefers to remain anonymous, was actually confronted by Facebook over the use of their name and asked to confirm their identity.
She was about to accept that her account, like one before, would soon be deleted but then remembered my story (click) about the German privacy laws and decided instead of sending them a picture of her Identity card, to send them a picture of this note she wrote which was practically a copy of what I mentioned on my blog;
Much to her surprise Facebook accepted this identification and reactivated her profile.
So either they don’t care about what kind of picture you send in as long as you send in a file when they ask for your identification, or someone at Facebook wasn’t paying attention or somehow they asked her for identification by mistake or… if you live in Germany (or claim to do so), they will simply have to accept that you don’t have to identify yourself.
Has Facebook already accepted these laws, are they just being careful awaiting what will happen next or is it all just a big coincidence?
Fact is, she told them she was German and didn’t have to send them her ID and they seem to have accepted it.
Of course this could have been a glitch, a mistake, an error, just a fluke, or just luck.
If you have any experience in this matter, if something similar happened to you, please share your story in the comments section.
Lets hope that this could be the thing that pushes Facebook over the edge towards accepting pseudonyms.
For years their real name policy has been getting a lot of flack and it even gave the competition a step up.
Websites like Twitter and Google+ have very liberal identity rules or have listened to their users and relaxed them, this has send users in their direction, away from Facebook.
The Hamburg data protection authority is confronting Facebook on its ‘real name policy and telling the social media site that it can’t demand its users to provide them with a photo ID.
The German regulator said that this violates the right to privacy and in a statement (click here to read, in German) could not force users to send them copies of their official identification papers nor could it force them to change their chosen names to real names.
These real name rules have been making things very hard for people who for one reason or another prefer to use a name that is not their official one or one not recognised by Facebook.
Artists, transgender men and women, American natives, people hiding from abusive relationshiips and of course those of us with a virtual identity.
Many of us at one time or another have had our profiles deleted by Facebook because we weren’t real enough.
But Facebook is just too good for running and managing communities, staying in touch, organising events, etc.
So we keep coming back.
Right now Facebook can lock your account and force you to identify yourself and change your name, or your account will be deleted.
Technically, according to Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information;
The requirement to use a real name violates the rights, enshrined in German law, to use a pseudonym, while requests for digital copies of an official photo ID also contradict the passport and ID card law and the unauthorised modification of the pseudonym … blatantly violated the right to informational self-determination and constitutes a deliberate infringement of the Data Protection Act.
This is very interesting for people who like to use Facebook but not share their real life identity with everyone.
Who knows this will finally allow us to create and keep profiles for our avatars.
Even if it means pretending we’re all German citizens 🙂
If Facebook made special”pseudonym” profiles that look, act and feel the same as regular ones but are somehow clearly marked as belonging not to an identified person, everybody would be happy.
During todays yesterdays (I fell asleep before I could finish this blog) ‘Meet a Linden’ talk at SL12B with Danger & Troy Linden, it was revealed that ‘My Second Life’ will not be “developed further”, mostly because a lot of time and work is spend on improving other things.
Its kind of a mess and it’s very difficult to maintain. Its usage rate is on the low side compared to other features.
So it may not be a popular answer, but no more improvements are planned on that.
I think this is a shame, I feel that it would be good for SL and in the future Sansar to create an active social media tool for our virtual world.
Everyone in SL knows the many issues we have with groups, group chat, having your account removed from Facebook, losing your pictures on Flickr, getting lost on Koinup, trying to keep track of what is being said on Plurk, dodgy online event calendars that are somehow never up to date, etc, etc.
But SL for most people is all about communication, after all, many of us are part of one or more communities.
Keeping them running, organizing events, staying in touch with everyone, keeping a nice record of what’s been going on, sharing pictures… it is all quite a big job and not being made easier by all the options we have but also lack.
When ‘My Second Life’ was first introduced in 2011 I was quite excited, I hoped that it would replace all or most of the tools I use a lot to keep the 1920s Berlin community going.
But alas, I was soon disappointed and stopped using it a long time ago.
I think that if LL developed it further and make it more like a, let’s not hide it, Facebook clone, a lot more users would start using it.
The best thing about this kind of social media wouldn’t just be the chance to chat about what you’re doing, gossip and sharing pictures, but the ability to manage and run your SL communities and social life.
One of the most important things I need, and yes, I only speak for myself, as I always do, as I’m self obsessed, or should that be Berlin obsessed?
The most important options any social media can offer me is that of meeting a community online.
What we need in ‘My Second Life’ is groups.
Imagine having a group for your SL community, one where all the members can post stories, questions, pictures, etc.
There is space for photo albums, so you can share and keep all pictures people post of a certain event in one place, there is room for posting comments and respond to them, perhaps there is even a chat window.
But maybe even more important; there could be a shared events calendar.
With an active community it is always difficult to keep track of who is organising what, where and when and avoid events being organised at the same time.
It can also be complicated to make sure people find out where to look to stay up to date.
Right now we use Facebook, google calendar and an inworld board for this and still it doesn’t always work.
I’d love the ability to start group pages, with a event calendar, chat wall, pictures albums, etc.
One that those who join get (inworld) notifications from (if they choose to) when something new is posted or when an event is about to start.
An easy way for me to reach everyone who joined even if I myself can’t go inworld for one reason or another.
Imagine if this page was also representative of your group, something you can stumble upon in search and learn about the community and sim even before you join it inworld.
Maybe it could eve be the portal to your community, almost like a webpage for your sim.
Welcome to our 1920s Berlin site, here you see some pictures of events, here you see what we’ve been talking about and here is a big button that will allow you to install SL and teleport directly to a stool by the bar, schnaps is ready.
I’d love to have a more active personal page, with more options, to be more like… here it comes again; Facebook.
In short, I’d love to stop using Facebook and Google calendar, Google+, etc, and swap all that for a place on ‘My Second Life’ with more options.
I think it will be a good thing for the communities, events, etc.
I’d love to be in contact with my SL communities even when not inworld.
See at once glance what events are scheduled for today, see what people are talking about, etc.
Now, if LL wants to make me really happy, they would add more in-out world interaction.
Imagine if you could, on the 1920s Berlin community page in MSL also see a window with the inworld group chat… live!
Or, and maybe this is only for sim moderators or admins; a current list of who is actually in that groups sim at that very moment.
Even allowing you to eject and ban someone from there, all without even logging into SL.
More than once I’ve received a frantic IM from someone in SL asking me to take care of a griever ruining an event, but not being able to do something about it for precious minutes because I had to go get my other computer, wait for it to boot up, wait for SL to load, wait for everything in SL to load so I could make a snapshot of the griever in question, etc.
Imagine being able to write a message on your group page in MSL and it goes out to all members inworld!
We could stop using the expensive and not always trustworthy inworld mailing services!
Imagine being able to see your friends list there and send them an IM that, if they are online will receive inworld in a regular chat window and they can respond to.
You could have a regular chat while they are in SL and you are in RL.
I think if we had tools like these, MSL would be open in a window on my screen all the time and I’d post there several times a day in stead of once every few months, like I do now on MSL.
And yes, I know Herr Linden, that will be a lot of work and there is plenty to do already at Linden Lab.
But I bet that once MSL starts offering more option and freedom, a lot of people will start using it much more and improving communication, strengthening communities and bring more people to events.
If it has enough options, thousands of us can stop using Facebook with fake accounts, Second Life has almost 370.000 likes on Facebook and I reckon a lot of those come from ‘fake’ accounts, at risk of being deleted by Facebook at any time.
Places like SLUniverse are very active, have over 25000 accounts and people spend lots of time there having all sorts of discussions, even if they don’t spend much time in SL any more.
I think that with a few extra options MSL could become a much used and popular tool, one you’d check several times a day, somewhere you go to chat and see what is happening even if you can’t or don’t want to go inworld.
Letting it slide and stay as it is will be, in my eyes, a mistake.
It could be a very powerful and much wanted service and I am sure we will also want/need something like this for Sansar anyway, so working on this now will also be useful for the future.
The full Danger & Troy Linden interview;
I tried to post this to MSL, but it wouldn’t let me.
Although many of us, especially those who are avatars, really dislike Facebook, but it is still one of the best and most used social media tools out there.
The Facebook page will be a great way to stay up to date with the latest news, improvements and special deals, while the Facebook group will be a place where you can share your amazing pictures, ask for help or interact with other SL Go users and the SL Go team.
A petition has popped up that asks Facebook to allow Second Life avatars to have a page, they however mean to ask Facebook for Second Life avatars to have a Facebook profile, because we’re already allowed to have Facebook pages, as long as they are managed by our RL profiles.
Will this make an impression on the Facebook people?
Probably not, I am not saying that because I am cynical but because Facebook only cares about publicity and numbers.
When cross dressers got upset about being forced to use their RL names, they caused quite a bit of fuss, demonstrated at FB HQ and received a lot of media attention.
Facebook listened to that.
Most people who have a profile on Facebook for their Second Life avatar are not going to demonstrate, we’re not going to get much media attention and to be fair, not that many of us are probably going to bother even signing the petition.
BUT… it can’t hurt to try, right?
After all, this will only work if a LOT of us sign it, if Facebook receives thousands of signatures, they will at least pay attention.
After another meeting with representatives of the LGBT community, Facebook has agreed that their ‘Real name policy’ was flawed, apologised for offending people and may “revert” to a “preferred name” policy instead.
The company also said that it will outline to activists how it plans to fix its policies.
Following a meeting today, Supervisor David Campos’s office send out this press release;
On Wednesday morning Supervisor David Campos, the lead negotiator for a broad coalition of activists including drag queens, transgender people, performers, survivors of abuse and stalking, political dissidents and privacy activists announced a successful outcome to conversations with Facebook regarding their real name policy.
“The drag queens spoke and Facebook listened! Facebook agreed that the real names policy is flawed and has unintentionally hurt members of our community. We have their commitment that they will be making substantive changes soon and we have every reason to believe them,” Campos said. “Facebook apologized to the community and has committed to removing any language requiring that you use your legal name. They’re working on technical solutions to make sure that nobody has their name changed unless they want it to be changed and to help better differentiate between fake profiles and authentic ones.”
Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox (sure that isn’t a Drag Queen name?) made this public post on the matter;
I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.
In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.
The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.
Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what’s been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.
We believe this is the right policy for Facebook for two reasons. First, it’s part of what made Facebook special in the first place, by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm. Second, it’s the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it’s both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.
All that said, we see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we’re already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.
It seems that things will get a little easier for people who don’t want to use their RL name on FB.
Let’s hope this will also work for us avatars, if not, we can always explain to them that we are Virtual Drag Queens, after all, many people in SL swap gender now and then 😉
On the other hand we have to remain sceptical, this could all just be coorperate PR talk, damage control.
And it may not be motivated by the actual believe they need to improve things but by fear of the competition.
Facebook alternative Ello has been getting a lot of attention lately, 31.000 people an hour are joining it.
Not something Facebook could/should/would ignore.
Why is it still so important for us to be allowed to use Facebook?
Well, love it or hate it, it is just very handy for SL communities and individuals to stay in contact with each other.
And until mysecondlife offers more options or Ello evolves, there aren’t that many other options.
Google+ sort of works, but isn’t to everyone’s liking.
Some people say that you should create a page for your avatar, but these have almost none of the functions that make Facebook interesting in the first place.
Either way, nothing is sure yet, but I was right when I said that I thought that we would have some good allies when the Drag Queens started getting upset and that people would now start paying attention.
The whole debacle with Facebook being nasty to people who don’t use their real name has made me think about the use of social media in Second Life and the communication tools Linden Lab has given us.
I think these can be improved and it may also remove the need for us to use Facebook at all.
At the moment most of us use Facebook or other social media to stay in touch with our Second Life contacts and communities because it is just too cumbersome to do this inworld, because it is impossible at that moment to start up the SL viewer or because the Second Life communication tools just aren’t good enough.
I use Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Hippogroups, email, Google+, Plurk, etc, etc.
Sometimes we have to talk to people in SL quickly, just a short message, we just want to look at something, read something, quickly in and out.
That is not how I would describe my SL experience.
Starting up Second Life for me means having to get my SL laptop, turn it on and start up a viewer, SL doesn’t really run on my 5 year old macbook I use for everything else and SLGo takes time and makes me use the official viewer I don’t like.
And of course once your SL viewer starts you have to wait for the world to rez, you may be bombarded by IMs from other people, get reminded of other jobs that need doing, etc.
Imagine the situation; there is a big event in 1920s Berlin and I want to make sure everyone knows about it.
I set an event on the facebook group’s calendar, I set it on the google calendar, I send a note to the group inworld, I send a message to my hippo mailing list, I stick posters all over Berlin, I send a message to group chat and finally I send a message to the region…
And all the time we’re hoping Facebook doesn’t delete our accounts.
Because replacing a Facebook account with a Facebook Page account means you lose a lot of options, including the ones we use most.
Good or bad, Facebook is the easiest and most versatile tool for us and the one we use the most, for serious important stuff but also for quick little chats, for sharing a funny 1920s themed story, event pictures, etc.
We don’t have to tell Linden Lab that, they know, they use Facebook and they have a Second Life page with more than 360.000 ‘likes’.
It would be fantastic if there would be just one place on the internet where we can do all this.
Some people think that Facebook is enough because we already use it, but because most of us use it with a different name than the one we use for our real life, we already have to log in and out when we have to switch accounts.
A while ago Linden Lab gave us mysecondlife, a good idea but not quite enough to replace all the tools I mentioned above.
For starters, I keep getting logged out by the Second Life website, which is a good security measure but not very handy if you want to use a website for social media, it is not uncommon for people to have their Facebook page online permanently.
And as the name suggests, its a very personal page, a place where you share your stories and your pictures.
But we use Social Media much more for community things, for groups activities.
There used to be something called ‘Avatars United‘, it had many of the options we need but was bought by Linden Lab, eventually shut down and incooperated into the Second Life website, but without many of the options the original version had.
What I would love to see is for Linden Lab to improve and expand the mysecondlife experience, give it more options like Facebook offers.
Make it the one stop website for all our Second Life related out-world activity.
Not just have our own page but also a page for every group we have in world, or maybe even let us build pages for groups we create outworld.
A place where we can upload all the events pictures (into separate folders), have a calendar we can use to set up events, invite all the other members of the group, share links, etc.
And who knows, maybe even have it connected to inworld groups.
Let us send messages, notecards and event announcements to groups in-and outworld via the website or the other way around.
This will allow Second Life users to stay more connected with their virtual lives even if they are not able to actually log in or if one day they lose interest in Second Life, they might still keep using the website to stay in touch with friends and who knows, this may one day make them decide to return.
It would be swell if we could abandon Facebook and Google+ and be happy using ‘Second Life Book+’ for that.
Go to the Second Life website that won’t log you off, where you can check each group to see what is going on, set events on the calendar, share pictures, see who else is online and chat with them, regardless if they are in Second Life or just online on the Second Life website, regardless if you are behind your power computer at home or on a bus using your tablet o mobile phone.
Improve the connectability and interaction between virtual reality and reality, make the barrier between Second Life and Real Life smaller.
Have you got any suggestions or ideas?
Please share them in the comments section below.
I know that a few Lindens follow my blog and are interested in hearing your opinions.