There has been a great deal on conversation over on the official Second Life community forums about Linden Lab setting up Tilia accounts for all SL user accounts to meet U.S. regulations. In response, Linden Lab set up an official FAQ thread which has seen many comments and questions posted.
SL blogger Chic Aeon, who has been monitoring the situation closely, reports that Linden Lab has been deleting some users’ questions from that thread:
I am not going to comment much about Tilia and the upcoming changes to Second Life here until AFTER the Tilia Town Hall Metting on Friday. I am hoping some adjustments will be made to the original announcement; there certainly has been enough outcry to warrant some rethinking of position.
I and others have been VERY vocal however on the SL Forums (Tilia Takes Over thread). It is very BAD form to make an official FAQ thread and then delete many long, thoughtful and important questions — let alone not answer any of the hard questions for over a week now.
Post deletion continued throughout the day with many people repeating their original questions and demanding answers. Unfortunately comments continued to be deleted and the week and a half thread remained volatile with arguments within the questions — most to be deleted once again when a moderator returns to work.
I am not a big fan of censorship in order to control the conversation. Linden Lab needs to step up to the plate and address everybody’s questions, instead of deleting them and pretending they didn’t exist.
Smarten up, Linden Lab!
*sigh* The Tilia Town Hall meeting this Friday should be interesting…
UPDATE 12:42 p.m.: Someone pointed out to me that LL said in the introduction to the FAQ thread, that “off topic commentary may be removed or moved from this thread”.
HOWEVER, who is deciding what is or is not “off topic”? That’s right, Linden Lab. According to Chic, people are posting perfectly valid questions, and Linden Lab is just deleting their questions instead of answering them. THAT. IS. WRONG.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the whole Tilia situation, Linden Lab need to seriously reflect on why they bother paying their PR team anything. The vast majority (but not all) of the complaints raised have been down to their poor wording of their initial announcement; and overzealous moderation at a time like this is akin to pouring petrol on the flames of outrage. It’s been amateur hour around here, and the damage is almost entirely self-inflicted.
One might actually expect a semi-competent PR team to, as Blush says, “control the conversation”: that is what PR teams are for! And yes, that is a form of “censorship”: controlling the narrative, manipulating the online “buzz” to your advantage, absolutely does attempt to shut down damaging counter-narratives. And we should be entirely unsurprised about any attempt to do that: LL is not a government, it’s a privately-owned corporation trying to make profits, or in this case retain disgruntled customers. This is not exactly a new or weird thing, right? Every corporation with a public presence does this, when they package good news, or try to contain the damage from bad news.
What’s really weird about this is that they are doing such an honestly gawd-awful job of it. There is almost no apparent logic or pattern to the stuff that has been removed. And it’s not just questions that have been deleted, but sincere attempts by residents to answer the sometimes panicky and generally poorly informed posts from people who have heard rumours of what is happening, and haven’t bothered to read through the FAQ at the beginning of the official Tilia post. And indeed, so poorly presented and organized is that material, that its no wonder. If this is “censorship,” it’s a laughingly incompetent version of it; if it’s “public relations,” it’s an utter disaster. It’s like they want to be evil, but are almost endearingly awful at it. And in the final analysis, there’s a chance that it will not just be LL and SL that suffer as a result, but everyone with any kind of stake in the ongoing health of the platform.