Linden Lab today launched a new terms of service, which has been updated in three areas :
- Remove outdated references to Desura and Authorised Resellers.
- Explicitly address our intolerance of harassment of Linden Lab employees.
- Clarify the arbitration provision in accordance with applicable law.
Some of these changes reflect the fact that terms of service changes can be a slow process. Desura went long ago, as did authorised resellers. The arbitration issue, I have absolutely no idea what that’s about, although I’m sure others will highlight those changes. The harassment of Linden Lab employees change is something that can be easily found in section 6.1 :
(iv) Post, display, or transmit Content (including any communication(s) with employees of Linden Lab) that is harmful, threatening or harassing, defamatory, libelous, false, inaccurate, misleading, or invades another person’s privacy.
The important point to note here is the any communication(s) part. That is going to cover, well, any communications. That means outside of Second Life, on Twitter, Facebook, email etc. Now I’m not sure what has happened to force Linden Lab to make this change, as I would have thought that this section would cover Linden Lab employees without explicitly stating that it does. The general points about not posting, displaying, transmitting said content would in theory cover it. However Linden Lab feel the need to explicitly address their intolerance of harassment of Linden Lab employees, so this will give it more teeth I guess.
In short, Linden Lab are explicitly stating that their employees now get the same protections in the term of service as everybody else. This isn’t a controversial section of the TOS, nor should it be considered as a means of shutting down criticism of Linden Lab.
Linden Lab have over the years generally accepted criticism from their customers, not always gracefully in the background I would imagine, but there have been many frank and heated exchanges with Linden Lab employees and residents over the years. I don’t recall many people being banned, but I also don’t recall many people being extremely abusive or even harassing Linden Lab employees. I’m not saying it has never happened, I just can’t recall anything really heinous.
I’m pretty damn sure we’ll all still be able to talk about the tier being too damn high, raising concerns over Project Sansar, pondering whether Ebbe Altberg is making the right decisions etc., without fear of being banned from Second Life.
On the other hand, if you’re abusing Linden Lab employees, harassing them, making libellous comments, you may want to rein it in a bit, with or without a TOS change. People sometimes get the wrong end of the stick, but there’s no need to libel Linden Lab. I have had some recent comments that I’ve considered editing because I feel they go too far in their criticism of Linden Lab. I will edit or delete comments if I feel they have crossed a line by a certain distance. I’m certainly not against freedom of expression, but that freedom should also come with responsibility.
So in many ways, this is a TOS change that is a tidying up exercise, adds a part about harassment and then there’s an arbitration clarification which I haven’t read into, that may or may not be a concern. As things stand, I don’t think there’s too much to worry about.