LL revises SL age verification

Note: On the basis of comments received, I’ve added links to past articles on age verification that will hopefully provide additional context.  

On Monday July 9th, Linden Lab made substantial revisions to the SL Age Verification system.

The Changes

The Age Verification section of the Dashboard Account services has been removed, and the Age-restricted Content section of the SL Knowledge Base has been revised. The key change is that the ability to access adult content is now determined on the basis of the date-of-birth a user supplies during the account sign-up process, as the Knowledge Base article makes clear:

“When you register for Second Life, you provide your birth date, because you are required to be at least 16 years old. If you are 13-15 years old, you may be allowed if you are restricted to the estate of a sponsoring organization. For more information, see Teens in Second Life.

“To access adult content, you must be at least 18 years old.”

Age Verification: the old (l) and gone from the new (r)

These changes mean that age verification is now the de facto means of determining a user’s ability to access adult content – the “either / or” link with having payment information on file (PIOF) is broken. While land holders can still additionally control access to their land by restricting it to those with PIOF, the new policy makes it clear that they must set access to those aged 18 or over if they have any adult content:

“Limiting land access by age

“Estate and parcel owners of adult-rated regions must limit access to Residents who are 18 years of age or older. Underage Residents are blocked from entry and receive a notification to this effect.”

In line with this,changes have been made to both the ESTATE tab in the REGION / ESTATE floater and to the ABOUT LAND floater in the latest Beta and Development viewer releases (and may already be in some recent TPV updates) – expect to see the changes in all viewers in the near future.

How the About Land floater has been updated to reflect the new policy. As it was (top) and as it will shortly appear in viewers (bottom)  - from the latest SL Dev viewer

At the same time, the land maturity ratings have been updated to replace references to age verification with the term “at least 18 years old”. Users must still set their content preferences within the viewer in order to access all land ratings – again providing their date-of-birth allows them to do so.

Issues

Following the change, users immediately began experiencing issues with accessing adult-rated land, with some finding they could now only set viewer preferences to GM where they were once GMA, others apparently finding they were unable to access adult content where they once could and so on. Reasons for the problems are unclear – but they were enough for LL to issue a Grid Status update on the 9th as more issues were reported:

“Age Verification Error

“[Posted 2:40pm PDT, 09 July 2012] We are aware that there are some issues with trying to access restricted areas of the grid.  We are looking into the cause and expect this issue to be resolved by the end of the day.  In the meantime if you need assistance with verifying your age, please contact support.”

Whether the situation was the cause of the “unscheduled maintenance” which commenced not long after is subject to speculation. Currently, it is unclear as to whether all issues have been properly resolved.

Commentary

User issues aside (and without trivialising them), this would appear to be an attempt to streamline the age verification process and make it less user-intrusive (using sign-up DoB rather than asking users to manually verify). Some of the thinking here may also be that under-18s could be signing-up under supervision (parental / teacher), so removal of the Age Verification option from the account dashboard does remove the temptation for young minds to alter things after-the-fact.

What is regretful is that Linden Lab has made no formal announcement on the change ahead of time. There was (again) nothing on the blogs or posted (so far as I can tell) to the forums. Thus, users have been left to either stumble on the changes by studying the Knowledge Base or through a head-on collision with problems resulting from the change, leaving them confused and not a little upset / angry.

Related Links

With thanks to Nyll Bergbahn. 

About these ads

31 thoughts on “LL revises SL age verification

  1. Lori Claremont

    So…. how are we supposed to be able to check/update this? I honestly don’t recall if I used my real DOB when I signed up. I think I did, but I’d like to be able to check/confirm….

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I think it is a case that if you hit an issue, contact support. The forum thread (linked to) contains a number statements and references to SL Answers, but none supported by links, etc., so it’s hard to determine what is going on without trying to dig through the morass that is the “community communications platform”.

      Again, this is why LL have demonstrated – yet again – a woeful lack of judgement in not actually accepting that something could go wrong during the switch-over (and God knows, things like twiddling around with their Marketplace Db for the likes of Direct Delivery and so should be warning enough as to how easy it is for things to go SNAFU, as Beccapet says) and:

      • Blog about the coming change and what it means for people (“We’re about to change X, which means Y. Most of you should be unaffected by this change, which will take place on Z, and will mean that….”)
      • Provide some guidance on what to do just in case people are adversely impacted (“Should anything happen as a result of the change to X, please contact Support / raise a ticket under this heading. If you are not a premium member, put the following the the subject field …. “).

      It’s not exactly rocket science for the company to do this. It is simply *gasp* good customer relations and stands to both reassure people that the company has their interests at heart and leaves people informed enough to be able to help themselves without unnecessary angst and anger. Whether they’ll ever grasp that fact however, is anyone’s guess. I, for one, am not holding my breath on the matter.

      Reply
      1. Lori Claremont

        Sigh, thank you LL…

        P.S.: Hire someone who knows a thing or two about Customer Relations, will you please??

        Reply
  2. Raine

    and of course no one ever lies about their DOB do they? an under 18 trying to access an over 18 game would never think to lie woud they?

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Obviously, to quote Gregory House, “Everybody lies”. But that’s not the point, in fairness. Any system of self-verification can be abused. As it is, Linden Lab have tried to make age verification as painless as possible for users – and I don’t begrudge them doing so at all. Particularly after all the angst and drama and outright misinformation that circulated around the original use of Aristotle as a verification process (which I blogged about at the time).

      The issue of age verification itself is not about whether the system can be abused – it is about Linden Lab doing what is legally required to do. In that regard, I have no problem with the process throughout all of its various iterations.

      My only complaint is that, once upon a time, the company would make the effort to tell their users what was going on. Now the only way we get to hear about a lot of things is either as a result of someone trawling their way through the forums & then bringing issues / news to the attention of others, etc., or through users actually hitting a sudden and unexpected brick wall where none previously existed – as is the case here.

      Reply
  3. Sugar Soul

    So… riddle me this. Doesn’t this just make it easier for someone under the age of 18 to, you know, sign up with a birthdate a few years prior to their own? I actually approved of LL’s adult-verification hoops. Now it’s just “make sure to use your older brother’s birthdate” or something.

    “I have a very bad feeling about this.”

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      As per comments above, the system has always been open to abuse by those determined enough to abuse it. That’s really not the point – and it is actually unfair to expect LL to come up with a totally foolproof way to verify anyone’s age without them having to resort to measures that would have the user base chasing them up a tree and setting light to it.

      Again, as per my reply to the last comment, for me the issue isn’t that of how the process can be abused. Rather, it’s the fact that once again, we’re left to find out about the changes as a result of someone happening upon them / encountering problems as a result of them being made.

      Reply
  4. Gwyneth Llewelyn

    I did age-verify an old alt, used for testing purposes — I wanted to add the ability to upload meshes from that alt as well — and was surprised at how easy it was to age-verify… whew, the old days of the immense complexity in validating one’s age are gone!

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I take it you’re referring to the July 2011 changes which saw Aristotle replaced?

      This change replaces *that* change: there is now no option to verify through your dashboard / account – it is done automatically based on the DoB entered when a new account is created.

      Reply
    2. Mister Acacia

      But even in those old days of age-verification, when one had to submit some form of documentation, underage users still existed. I know of one personally, turned out to be only 13 but had adult access because the age verification process failed to prevent that access. As Inara says, any system can be defeated unless there is some form of live verification that you are whom you say you are.

      Reply
  5. Pussycat Catnap

    On the user end I’ve already met one resident who simply had -no option- to change their preferences off of G. The little pulldown we all see to set what you can access was, by their claim, simply not even there on their viewer.

    So I guess for younger residents the temptation to change it later will be impossible to overcome without making a ‘new account.’

    This also made me realize just how hard it is to find a new-user friendly community for a G-rated account. My go-to place of The Shelter having been on M land, and NCI and Caledon often lacking helpers on staff while also being more just help places and less hangouts.

    If some good ‘teen hangout spots’ showed up, it might help remove the temptation. But in the end I just tried to send the person I was dealing with to, of all places, ahern…

    Reply
  6. Mister Acacia

    On the upside, this automatic age verification should allow those who are underage to immediately update their maturity upon their 18th birthday without having to jump through any other kind of loops or having to get notes from their parents (did any parent ever write a note for school?)

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      I think the overall streaming of the process – current issues notwithstanding – is good. I hadn’t actually considered the benefits for those signing-up under 18 and then passing the milestone; it’s a good point to make.

      Reply
  7. Innula Zenovka (@InnulaZenovka)

    This is something Viale Linden has talked about several times at ACUG meetings (at least when we used to have them, though they’ve not formally been suspended). As I understand it, the idea is that now, if you want to TP to an Adult sim and you’ve not set your preferences in the viewer so to do, then — assuming you qualify by virtue of the age you gave at sign-up — it will simply ask you to confirm you want to access Adult content.

    The objective was to make it as seamless as possible, so you don’t have to mess around relogging and can do it all in the viewer.

    Viale used the analogy of Blogger — if you want to access a blog that the author has flagged as Adult, then Blogger ask you to confirm, and that’s it. If it’s good enough for Google, I don’t see why it’s not good enough for SL.

    As to fears about minors and Adult Content in SL.. all I can say is that if the worst thing a minor with unsupervised access to the internet encounters is Adult SL, his or her parents should heave a sigh of relief.

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Yup. As commented above, I think it is a good step forward for the process – but again, a shame that it wasn’t actually blogged about in any way in advance. Even had the transition been flawless, a blog post would have meant people are forewarned and won’t get so upset if things went wrong.

      I certainly agree with your point on how the rest of the Internet handles things & the system being good enough for SL by extension.

      Given the KB articles still specify users must manually set their maturity preference within the viewer, I assume that rather than simply asking a users to confirm they wish to enter an adult region if they don’t have GMA set, any on-screen prompt will request they pull up Preferences and make the change. It’ll achieve the same thing, but will also ensure their viewer is correctly set.

      Reply
      1. Innula Zenovka (@InnulaZenovka)

        No, it’s easier than that, I’m delighted to report. I have an alt whom I created for testing what happens to people who aren’t Adult Verified, and I’ve just logged her in with the new beta viewer. She’s qualified to see Adult Content, since I provided my own DoB for her, but she’s got no payment info and has never been near the Adult Verification section of the website.

        Anyway, on logging in, after I rezzed, I pulled up the main destination guide, chose “Adult” and said I wanted to go to the Adult Hub. A modal dialogue box popped up, saying “The region you’re trying to visit contains adult content but your current preferences are set to exclude adult content. We can change your preferences and continue with the teleport, or you can cancel this teleport.”

        I clicked “Change and Continue,” and whoosh.. there I was at the Adult Hub.

        Reply
        1. Inara Pey Post author

          Excellent!

          Thanks for that Innula. I have a personal thing where Alts are concerned (although I have two for specific purposes & unavailable to test something like this(one was age verified to test the July 2011 changes anyway)), and was loathe to create another just to walk through everything.

          Anyway, nice to hear that all the dots have been joined-up to make things completely seamless. Again: if only we’d actually been told; if not in a blog post, then at least in the KB article giving details in full.

          Reply
    1. IzzieM

      It might have been really tedious for those who are over the age to become age verified, but I thought it would actually a good thing that we needed proof of age. ( I went through the whole thing when I was being age verified) it was a good way to keep minors out of adult places when the Teen grid merged with the main one.
      I am sure there are great reasons why the Lindens have done this, however in my eyes it very stupid and irresponsible of them, especially after the amount of complains filed from parents who have attacked Second Life because of its adult content.

      Reply
      1. Inara Pey Post author

        I’m not sure as to the “complaints filed” element, and take that with a pinch of salt.

        However, to again re-state: the overall process was revised in July 2011, largely because – ironically – many in Second Life felt the original verification age verification (using Aristotle) was “too invasive” and were suspicious of it.

        As such, LL were – at least in part – responding to long-standing user resentment of the system.

        All that has happened here is a natural further alignment of age verification with the sign-up process. What has been done is actually quite sensible and reasonable, and actually means that the process is a lot more straight-forward.

        Overall, what has been presented by Linden Lab since last July, and which has now been updated, is actually no different to age verification steps that are carried out when signing up to websites across the Internet that may or do contain was is considered to be “adult material”. So why does Second Life have to be set apart?

        Reply
  8. Lindal Kidd

    Parents have no (legal) grounds for complaint if their kid lies about their age to access adult content…on SL, or anywhere else.

    This is a change from the Aristotle “positive ID” method, but that has been dead for a long time now. It is NOT much of a change from the self-certification process that replaced it…it only removes one place where you said, “yes, the birth date I entered is correct and I am over 18″. So now, anyone who wants to lie, only has to lie once instead of twice.

    I am a bit concerned about what land owners need to do though…did I see correctly that we now MUST check the “age verified access only” box on our land, if it is M rated? If true, I think it will be a long time before that word gets out to everyone.

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      The KB article places the onus on land holder to ensure that any land that can be defined as containing “adult content” is rated so that only residents who “Are age 18 and over”. The definitions as to what comprises “adult content” (including the “closed doors” aspects) do not appear to have changed.

      As far as I can tell, this is a change to defining land access. Previously, adult content access was on the basis of “either / or”: either you had to be age verified OR have PIOF status. It was down to the land owner to set whichever flag they felt best suited their land to control access (the theory being only those over the age of 18 would be PIOF). Under this system, the either / or element has been taken away. Adult-rated land must have the “Age 18 and over” flag set regardless as to whether the PIOF flag is set or not. This actually again does make sense, particularly since the Teen Grid merger – it’s just a pity it hasn’t been clearly communicated.

      Reply
      1. Lindal Kidd

        but what about Moderate land? At present, it is supposed to be accessible only by age verified accounts, same as Adult land.

        Reply
  9. sickjessicka

    So they forced Age Verification down our throats, ends up it’s still widely hated and/or didn’t work, so they continually weakened and weakened it, because it’s not a universal system that can work…And years later, they removed it. Well hey! Maybe in a few years they’ll start working on all the other dozens of things that players hate too!

    Reply
    1. Inara Pey Post author

      Age verification hasn’t been “removed”.

      It has been integrated with the date of birth given when signing-up to the platform.

      Reply
  10. Sparks Racecourse

    The age verification box in about land has never worked right, because it bans some people that have done the age verification. A friend of mine is a 54 year old male from the USA, and he did the age verification. If you check that box, then he can’t enter the land as adult. I have tested out the feature in the first island in 2009, and my last island in 2012. So, again the Lindens only have changed the words, but never fixed the feature.

    Reply
  11. foneco zuzu (@ZZBottomHL)

    Parents are 1st and the only to be responsible if they do let their kids access adult content.
    Nobody can replace their job in educating or supervising what their kids do!
    To say otherwise, for me, means that hose parents dont even deserve or can be trusted as so!

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Seamless Access to Adult Content - SLUniverse Forums

  13. Pingback: #SL Interesting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s