Thursday, 2 October 2014

066: Facebook's apologizing. What will Linden Labs do?

Recently I wrote about the issues that were driving people like me to consider using Ello, a new social media platform, because of Facebook's policies about the name you have to use on your account. I have a Facebook account in my own name, but I can't have a Facebook account as Rusty Redfield.  Well, okay, I actually DO, mostly because I wanted to make sure I had that name nailed down if things changed. But I'm afraid to actually use the account for anything because I know that it violates their TOS and I'm afraid they'll just shut me down.
It's that TOS that has been all over social media lately; a bunch of drag queens and other LGBT folks were (rightfully) upset because even though they're known to one and all as, for instance, Sharon Needles, that's not on their birth certificate and Facebook wouldn't let them use their chosen names. A bunch of SL bloggers have been talking about this issue because we can't have accounts as our avatars either. Ciaran Laval, aka Governor Marley (someone wise and experienced will have to tell me why that aka is someday; I just like reading his blog) has a hilarious story here about how Salman Rushdie got hooped by Facebook because Salman is actually his middle name on his passport. There's also issues about people with stalkers, people who want to be protected from abusive ex-spouses and the like, whistleblowers, people who live in countries that have repressive regimes, etc., etc. And then it didn't help that that big doofus Mark Zuckerberg mouthed off and said that people who wanted to have an account that wasn't under their legal name were "an example of a lack of integrity". Thanks, Mark. Hope YOU never have a violent ex-husband. I've seen The Social Network and you are in NO position to talk about my lack of integrity, sport.
Long story short: Facebook has kind of backed down, according to this report in HuffPost. You should definitely read the exact words of Chris Cox from Facebook in his apology reprinted in HuffPost; I've been trying to parse it carefully to see if I can figure out precisely what he's saying Facebook will do in the future. It seems as though Lil Miss Hot Mess will be able to have her account under that name, etc. But I'll be damned if I can figure out if I can keep my Rusty Redfield account and actually use it. My reading is: no, I can't. Facebook only wants "real people". I could be wrong; this may shake out in the next while differently than my reading. But I'm betting if someone busts me for having a Rusty Redfield FB account -- it's toast.
Okay, fine. Honestly, I don't care too much about linking this blog and my Second Life account with any other social media platform, including Flickr (my photos are way too amateurish!), Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or a bunch of stuff I'm too dim to be aware of. Folks, my reading of this is, if I'm spending time making sure that my blog is linked to my Flickr account, then that's time I haven't got to spend on writing blog posts. Hell, I don't even have time to sign into my Rusty Redfield Facebook account. Yes, I am aware that this makes me "old-fashioned" and behind the times, and vieux jeux and passé and anything else you want to call me. But I have a limited amount of time to work on this stuff and this is just about as good as it gets. Sorry. I know that makes me a specialized taste, and you kind of have to want to find my blog to read it. Fine. I don't write this for everyone, just people who like this sort of thing.
But it occurred to me in the middle of all this brouhaha about Residents switching to Ello -- which STILL hasn't managed to get me a goddamn invitation, although they've apologized twice by e-mail so far -- that Linden Labs is missing a bet here. Why doesn't the company ditch the minimal amount of effort it puts into the forums and start a Facebook-like platform for us? (Do NOT get me started on the forums. Not that I've ever used them, but I've certainly read enough of them to know that they seem to be a complete waste of time and something whose functions were taken over by Facebook about 20 minutes after Facebook took off. Right now it's like one of the heritage functions of SL, like those trust network functions they ditched about 2004, and calling cards, and TP points.)
Yeah, I suppose that is kind of a futile idea. They can't even manage to upgrade the system to give us in-world working mirrors, FCOL. And the handwriting is on the wall for this iteration of Second Life, I'm pretty sure. But, Linden Labs, if you're reading this -- whatever you're planning for the next version of what I'm calling Second Second Life, could you please add in a social media platform for SSL avatars? Something that's integrated into the MMO from the very outset, and maybe even integrated into whatever Marketplace will become? Then we wouldn't have to be cobbling together an integrated avatar presence with Facebook or Ello or whatever.
Meanwhile -- I'm still waiting for my invitation to Ello, and then I'll put together a small presence as Rusty Redfield, and see if I can manage to find the time to integrate it with this blog and anything else I do as Rusty Redfield. But honestly, I'd really prefer it if Linden Labs was trying to give people the ability to interact with each other the way that they want to, without having to use six different websites. What that would look like, I have no real idea. The reason I mention tying it into Marketplace is -- well, sometimes people like to recommend articles of clothing and furniture to each other, and that would help LL sell you more stuff, and that might make it financially worthwhile for them to give us a useful tool. I'm not holding my breath.
Does anyone have an idea of what a "Facebook for SL avs" would look like, or what it could do?

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