Sundry thoughts on recent bans in Second Life

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Note: Linden Lab has provided the Better Business Bureau with a breakdown of the permanent ban process, which is available for public viewing.

On  Sunday, February 21st, I posted an article concerning SL content creator Teager (Breeder’s Choice and Teegle brands). In it I covered the news that Teager was asking people not to buy from her Marketplace store, on account of her accounts having been banned from Second Life.

Some 24 hours after posting that article – and approaching a week after she first started encountering problems, Teager had her accounted released. As I noted in my update to my original post on the situation, the news first came in a * Breeder’s Choice * group announcement, via Teager’s husband, AgentEightySix in SL:

There is news regarding Teager. She has been unbanned. She’s not home right now, she got the email on her phone, but I’m sure she’ll be on a little later. For everyone who donated at the donation box, thank you.  No need to do any more.  We’ll take it down tonight, and everything can get back to normal around here.

The following day, Tuesday February 23rd, it was confirmed another creator initially banned under similar circumstances, WarmAnimations Lisa, had also had her ban rescinded.  In both cases, warnings were given about the risk of further banishment in the event of a re-offence.

The notifications that their bans had been lifted was also the first time both Teager and WarmAnimations Lisa were actually told why they had been banned: they had used images within one or more Marketplace listings which were deemed to be “not acceptable” – the actual items specified in the listings did not appear to be in question.

While objecting to an image in a listing, even one rated as Adult, may sound odd, it is worth remembering that there are subjects which can still be deemed as offensive or disturbing even among those who have consciously opted to enable the Adult content rating when browsing the Marketplace. This is something content creators should keep in mind when preparing their listings; the Adult rating isn’t necessarily a carte blanche allowance to post absolutely anything.

But that said, for the Lab to immediately respond with an outright ban, as was the case with Teager and WarmAnimations Lisa (and possibly others) without warning nor explanation, is, in five words: excessive  and completely heavy-handed.

Even with the best will in the world people make mistakes. They’re not wilfully breaking the policy; they’re not attempting any kind of subversion, they have simply erred. This can happen even when they’ve read all the standards, requirements and policies related to something. As such, there are cases where people should be given – for want of a better term – the benefit of the doubt before a hand starts reaching for the ban hammer.

As it is, Linden Lab can remove any content at any time from both the Marketplace and / or in-world at any time, might it not have been better to go that route first with these situations? That is, remove the content causing the problem; communicate with the affected content creators and explain what has been done, why it has been done, and issue any appropriate warning (if necessary) on the possible consequences of future transgressions.

Such an approach achieves a number of beneficial goals for the Lab:

  • It allows the offending images to be removed without fuss
  • It offers a clear explanation of what has been done and why
  • It allows said content creators to consider any other items they have listed with images which might be considered “not acceptable”, and thus replace said images
  • It may allow word to spread through the content creation community without undue rancour or drama, so that others with possibly questionable images in their listings might also replace them, removing the need for future actions on the Lab’s part
  • It demonstrates that Linden Lab recognises that people can, and do, make mistakes, and that most are prepared to accept their error if it is properly explained to them
  • It demonstrates consideration without removing the explicit understanding that there are policies which must be adhered to, and that repeated violations won’t be tolerated.

Obviously, there are times when it is appropriate / necessary for the ban hammer to be wielded within Second Life. no-one is denying that. But equally, there are times when it should not be seen as the immediate and preferred tool of action when there are other means to initially handle a situation. This is a balance those at the Lab with access to the ban tool seem to have problems in understanding.

Over the past couple of years, the Lab has been investing time and effort in rebuilding users’ confidence in itself on several fronts. If nothing else, an over-reliance on bans as first response to policy transgressions when there are potentially other ways to deal with matters, risks unravelling at least some of that restored confidence.

As it is, when looking specifically at both Teager’s and WarmAnimations Lisa’s situation, it’s very hard not to reach the conclusion they were handled in a manner akin to the image at the top of this article.

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33 thoughts on “Sundry thoughts on recent bans in Second Life

  1. Ah, using the ban hammer when less-draconian administration tools and simple communication would suffice. Just fills you with confidence on how they’ll handle issues with Sansar, eh?

    -ls/cm

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  2. Reminds me on my own ban from the SL forums. Received some warnings about offensive postings first but could never find anything bad in their examples. Didn’t even use the eff-word, so I asked them to come straight. And when that failed I received more totally unrelated warnings and I accused the mods of being obvious bots, only capable of communicating in one direction. Eventually my ban notice arrived with yet another totally harmless, helpful post of mine as an example of my offensive posting. Banned for life, not temporary … but for life!!!

    Calling the lab management heavy-handed is understating their actions. They are probably a bunch of either badly programmed bots or very young and badly educated bullies, operating far above their level of competence, not having the slightest human values.

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  3. It’s worth noting that as of now, those reinstated still do not appear to have been told why their images were against the MP TOS. This makes it difficult to be certain they won’t make the same mistake again and be considered “re-offenders.”

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  4. excellent blog item as usual. A friend messaged me about Lisa’s ban and I’ve been reading all I could on it. Needless to say, this has put people on edge, wondering “could I be next?” for anything they have on their sim inworld. I have had an issue on both Facebook and Pinterest where a photo I posted (one of a disgruntled family member, one of a Pin from someone else) was removed. In both cases, I was sent an email noting the offending photo was removed as part of a complaint, thanking me for my cooperation and nothing more was done. I did not repost the offending photo because I fully understood the position. I did respect that in both cases, I was communicated with FIRST and knew what the issue was as well as they took the action of taking it down. In these two cases you’re reporting on, I agree that the Lab’s actions were “excessive and completely heavy-handed” and I further feel they show a disrespect for both these vendors and all of the people who support SL either by word or by money. These moves were wrong; unbanning them is only the first step in making it right. They need to fully address this issue and assure all of us that they will establish a more respectful procedure.

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  5. I agree with your article entirely. I wonder what kind of image in the Adult listing could be deemed as so offensive or disturbing though: in the MP there are the most extreme, darkest, even snuff sex stuff, and it looks like they are accepted (as well as whole regions dedicated to that stuff). Not to mention that it’s plenty of behaviors and items that are blatant IP infringement or against the TOS in other ways, but they don’t seem to care. So I don’t get it, unless they suddenly hired a puritan or it was something pedophilia related, which it’s something (perhaps the only thing) known to trigger quick reactions and heavy hands from LL staff.

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  6. If Linden wants to clean up the grid— why not review the RL photos in profiles. Truly utterly sickening things are posted and never flagged and removed .

    If I open an adult marketplace storefront I expect to see positions etc. But opening a profile and seeing real life photos of things that way beyond community norms anywhere is disgusting.

    I’m far from a prude but some images disturb me greatly and haunt me . No warning system in place .

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    1. Playing devil’s advocate here, but I can imagine LL claiming, ‘you don’t have to look at profiles – it’s a choice’.

      I’ve been caught out myself, checking a profile and then wishing I hadn’t.

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  7. A friend in SL sent me this link as I too am a creator and have been banned from SL without explanation other than quoting me the Term of Service 6 (vi) which states: “Post, display or transmit any Content or conduct or host any activity that is sexually explicit, or intensely violent”.

    I was banned on 19 February 2016. I had to guess why I had been banned in order to make an appeal which wasn’t successful, but then I was playing a guessing game based on the clause above. They responded by saying my ban was final and they wouldn’t engage in any further communication on the matter. I too see my items on Market Place being sold with no way of collecting any monies from the sales or responding to customer enquiries, which is sole distroying as this will lead to negative feedback eventually and with having over 350 items listed I receive emails of sales on a daily basis.

    I have been in a state of shock ever since I was banned last week and my heart was lifted when I read your article, as I realised I was not alone. It also gave me the strength to submit a further appeal, so armed with the knowledge that I may have been one of several placed in the same position over Market Place listings, they may also reinstate me. Well I have nothing to lose by trying. So thank you again for your article and fingers crossed, I will keep you posted 🙂

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      1. I have some wonderful news and I’ve only just heard, Ruby Silverblade (me) has had her ban lifted by LL. I’m over the moon to say the least and I need to thank you Inara for bringing those that were banned together, which gave me the strength, hope and drive to continue to pursue and challenge LL for the way they had unfairly treated us. Your blog also enabled me to speak to a couple of people who had their bans lifted and one recommended I file a complaint to BBB, which without their advice I may still face a life ban. Needless to say my funds have also been reinstated. So Diversity Tattoos is now back in business 🙂

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    1. Good luck with your appeal Ruby, many people will be rooting for you to win. I know SL has absolute control over all our SL lives, but it seems extremely unfair that someone who has contributed so much to SL over many years gets banned with no warning. SL should AT THE VERY MINIMUM provide a warning of what they deem offensive behavior prior to any ban since it is a very arbitrary judgement. Al of us are at risk (and the loss of our time and lindens spent) until the rules are changed. SL MUST provide specific reasons for any banning and a warning prior to giving any ban.

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  8. I am still dumbfounded at the way they are running SL like a dictatorship. Banning people with no warning, and then taking the money these same people should be receiving. It will get to the point where those that create and make SL the wonderful place it can be, will choose to no longer do so. I wish you all success in your appeals process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my plight to have my SL ban lifted. LL continue to close every ticket I open without any response to my request for an “informed appeal” where I promises to remove any offending items from MP and never break their rules again. I make mainly tattoos, some clothes and a handful of skyboxes (Diversity Tattoos).

      Through friends emails I have managed to locate the ONE offending item which they have removed, a themed sky box. So it turns out that I have been banned for one item which was in the Adult section of MP that doesn’t represent the bulk of my creations. I have placed a complaint with Better Business Bureau and await a response from them.

      However my attention has now turned to trying to obtain my US Dollar balance, which I have exchanged for Lindens over the past few months prior to my ban. My account history reads that in February it stood at a healthy $260.08 and then when I check March’s statement it reads zero and there is no entry saying this has been withdrawn, it just vanishes and defiantly not to my PayPal account. Surely this is theft!!! I have printed off both statements as proof and if I don’t get a satisfactory outcome I will contact the police. I accept that I can’t get my Lindens out, which incidentally are increasing daily due to my MP sales, which is another frustration. Surely LL can’t continue to sell my products and keep 100% of the monies taken?? How long will they do this? will it be forever!!! All I want is my ban to be lifted like the others that have been successful in having this done. Surely not too much to ask of LL. I welcome any support from others on this matter. So frustrating.

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  9. Inara, I thought your post on the situation was generous to a fault where LindenLab is concerned and I congratulate you for your restraint.

    I, however, am not so restrained.

    LL isn’t known for it’s stable, organized or logical management practices. For the most part, it seems to be run by ‘fluffy’ idiots with no scruples, itchy trigger fingers and out-of-control egos, with the left hand clueless about what the right hand’s doing while giving their own offspring expensive sims on a silver platter that everyone else has to work hard (and pay through the nose) for.

    SL just isn’t a decent or fair place to be anymore. As someone else mentioned, it’s being run like a dictatorship (well, that’s what ‘democracy’ has become irl, after all).

    As for Sansar – they can shove that where the sun don’t shine, baby.

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  10. I was banned just over a month ago while away on holiday. Turns out my home computer has been hacked and I had quite a lot of accounts other than secondlife accessed.
    Linden lab despite me appealing have never told me what I’m supposed to have done and only told me I brok TOS.
    I had been in secondlife since 2007.
    Spent a great deal of money and invested in a lot of land. All lost.
    The only thing they ever said was a question do I know a Emma Hawley. I did not.
    So just over a month later I’m none the wiser.
    I’ve subsequently read their TOS and still haven’t worked it out.
    But, I recommend everyone reading it because you will be a little shocked at the binformation they do hold on you.

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    1. I’m sorry to hear about your ban, you must be devastated. I can only recommend the Better business Bureau, google it and fill in the complaint form. They then contact LL giving them 14 days to respond. I’m not sure it worked for me as they didn’t let me know, but within the 14 days I had my account back. Good luck.

      Ruby

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      1. Ohhh thank you. I’ll give that a go. Much appreciate the advice. It is devastating indeed.
        Logically it shouldn’t be. But the time we spend in their it does become part of life . Thanks again

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  11. Wanted to thank everyone for this awesome blog, I see that I am not the only one who had his account banned. as someone mention here it would seem that my appeals were answer by bots as I got exactly the same reply for my 3 tickets that I sent to LL. I guess after being in SL since 2008 you get attached to it, specially for all the beautiful people we get to meet but really, this place has become so unfair.
    Aikomoon

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  12. Linden Lab has been on a complete tear with child avatars recently. Either someone in the Fraud department is completely unhinged, or they’ve decided to get rid of all child avs and aren’t honest enough to tell the residents that.

    Same story as the other bans. They get a vague ban accusation, and then a boilerplate response to the appeal. They pay absolutely no attention to the pleas of their customers.

    My SL daughter was banned for age play, which she absolutely would not have ever committed; she has always taken great care to avoid Adult furniture, and other inappropriate conduct. To be clear, at no time have we asked LL just to overlook a genuine infraction, or tried to downplay the significance of one. We simply demanded them to investigate their libelous accusation, and reinstate the account of a long term SL resident when it became clear she hadn’t committed it.

    To no avail. They’re not only too swift in their judgement, but also completely unwilling to admit they’d made a mistake.

    As Aiko above, and others, mentioned: Second Life has become a hostile environment run by fascist regime. All the advances in technology (and trust me, I’m very angry that I’m missing out on Bento) cannot make up for this. I haven’t been banned, but I won’t be back. In my life, the people come first.

    P.s. If you’re interested, further details on my specific complaint are here: https://www.change.org/p/ebbe-altberg-linden-lab-reinstate-peace-smythe-s-account-immediately

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    1. There are legitimate child avatars who stay and play on PG sims, wishing to enjoy their SL experience as a child. Then there are “those” people using child avatars who want to push the envelope with ageplay or worse. I help to run an Adult sim and I have had several instances of these showing up, knowing it was wrong, but looking for that type of play anyway. Sure, they might get banned, but our sim might be as well for “allowing” this.

      The last one that showed up was clearly a toddler. I was greeting and cammed onto a part of the sim where I was moving things around so I just chatted with her about the sim until she said “I guess you’ll get in trouble if I’m here, huh?” THAT got my attention and I cammed to her to see this toddler on a dance pole. Sadly, some SL glitch was preventing me from booting her as she taunted me, saying she should report me to LL for letting her be there. I eventually relogged, then booted and banned her, but the damage could have been too late.

      I don’t know about answers. LL doesn’t seem to discriminate between adult and child when banning, erring on the extreme side of caution, I would say. Is it right or fair? No, but they also need to protect themselves. I do think that their TOS is clear on some things that people have been banned for and they need to take ownership for not following. Then there are others who seem to be unfairly banned and the correction on that needs to be better on LL’s side. They need to establish a clear procedure for grievances on issues like this.

      You note that she has always been careful about not going onto Adult furniture, but has she been on Adult sims while avoiding that furniture? From what I read here, http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Child_Avatar, these items should not be near any child areas. Just a thought.

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      1. I do wish I could also send my petition on favor of Peace, she is one of the nicest persons I have met in SL, She got banned 4 days before I did and we both lived in the same sim where other people also got banned, as if they had target that place where all we did is be good neighbors, sail and dance.
        As you know I also been trying to appeal my case without any luck, I sent letters to their headquarters in San Francisco and still getting the same answer, that I have repeatedly violated the Second Life Terms of Service or Community Standards? I never ever been banned before. They wont tell me anything else, I still log in hoping to see a change in my ticket history but nothing seems to change, it just says:
        Case has been assigned to a technician and is in process.
        Work in Progress
        Case has been assigned to a technician and is in process.
        Information Requested
        We require additional information in order to solve your issue.
        Waiting for 3rd Party
        We are waiting on additional information
        Open Bug
        We have identified your issue as an open bug. When we have information about the bug being fixed, we will update your case.
        Pending Release
        We have identified your issue as being caused by a bug. The fix for this bug is in the process of being released.
        Waiting for Customer Acceptance
        We believe that we have resolved your issue. Please re-open the Case if the issue persists, or close the Case if it has been resolved.

        As anyone can see, Linden have really taking an attitude where anyone can get banned and the will not tell you why except the stereo type reply like the ones I get time after time.

        Well, I really hope things change for the better or they will be loosing good respecable paying people such as Lil Lowey
        Aikomoon

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      2. Short answer: no, she would never go onto an Adult sim, although child avs are allowed to by the TOS. (F’rinstance, if the sim was rated A due to violent content, not sex, they’re allowed.)

        Believe me, I’m well aware that many child avs are not simply trying to relive their childhoods. I’ve booted a few off of the estate that we, and Aiko, lived on, personally.

        If she were guilty and had simply been caught violating the TOS, that would be a different matter. I’d likely still leave SL to spend time with her, but I wouldn’t be ranting about LL’s heavy-handed enforcement.

        I posted here because they seem to address (perceived and real) infractions the same way across the board, and it’s just as bloody unfair whether it’s directed at a child avatar, a merchant, or what have you.

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  13. Hi I know this article is old, but am hoping someone can tell me how to get unbanned. I have been on administrative hold for about a week, almost two, now and have submitted about 6 support cases since LL kept closing each case without it being resolved. I have also called to speak to someone but most support don’t know why I was banned and offered to put in a support case. That does not help me at all. All I do on SL is hang with friends. The day before I was put on hold I hung out with one of my friends and he bought me a gift from marketplace, not sure if that is why I was banned. Anyways, I have had the account for 3 years, never had this happen to me before. I have friends and family who are probably wondering what happened to me Inworld. Every time I appeal, no one tells me, ‘Hey yeah let’s talk, no they just immediately click the ‘close case’ button. What the hell. I am just really annoyed and my inventory is very expensive. it took years to get all of those things and now I get kicked out of SL. That is so not fair. Please can someone give me a direct number or something for me to speak with a support specialist who will actually talk to me?

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    1. I’m afraid there is little in the way of direct assistance that can be given, as banning is pretty much a matter between the Lab and the individual concerned.

      You might try the Lab’s live chat (although you may well be asked to file a support ticket). You might also check with the Lab’s banning process as they’ve defined with the Better Business Bureau to see if it has been followed. If you believe it has not, you might try filing a complaint through the BBB.

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      1. Thank you. I am going to try with the BBB and also with live chat if I am still able to access that on the account on hold. I also have been doing research about SL policies. I had been asking for them to tell me how and why I was put on Administrative hold and threatened with the closing of my account, but have not received no information on it from them and only just their “assumption” that I have done something wrong. If there is no ‘proof’ that they can come up with to show any TOS violation, then SL’s hold or ban is in direct violation of their own policy. I think it can hold up in court if this went that far. I do not want it to go that far at all. My inventory alone is worth over $100,000 Linden Dollars. I am a customer who owns those things since they were either gifts or I purchased them with my own real money. If I did try to take this situation to court, then it would be due to principle mostly and to stand up for the ‘little guy.” Also, thank goodness I can still communicate with at least some of my friends and SL family to tell them what happened to me. Thank you so much for commenting back.

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        1. I have an update! My account has been reopened. I am soooooo happy about this! I literally have been in tears for the past two weeks straight because this has been stressing me out. Thankfully, I have really good support from the friends I made in SL.

          Anyways, after another investigation was done, “At your request, Linden Lab has reviewed the disciplinary actions taken against your account. While our Governance Team takes careful steps to ensure that account actions are applied justly and correctly, our investigation shows that the hold of your account was applied in error. We sincerely apologize for the mistake. Accordingly, we are pleased to inform you that your account has been reactivated.” I am so glad that it has all been fixed. I can not mention the lady’s name, but she is the one who conducted a more thorough investigation and I am forever grateful to her.

          Also Ms Inara, thank you for allowing me to post. My advice to someone who’s account has recently been put on Administrative Hold; is to state clearly in the support case your desperation of wanting to keep your account open and why. Also, be sure to inform them of any strangeness that might had occurred before your account was put on hold, if any. Stay calm when speaking to support over the phone and answer their questions truthfully; Be patient, someone may get back in contact with you in several days. Also, I noticed when my account initially was put on hold, the general message that I received from LL was a general scary one stating my account was going to be closed. Do not believe that first one, just respond to it with (stating clearly in the support case your desperation of wanting to keep your account open and why). Also if possible, try not to submit a huge amount of support case tickets, it slows the process down. Wait about two days before calling or submitting another support ticket.

          Hmm, let’s see what else. Oh, don’t do what I did; which was stressing for two weeks straight and panicking and not getting much sleep. If this ever happens to me again, I will just relax and try to trust that Linden Labs will do their job correctly. Also, one more thing, if a support person hangs up on you, don’t get stressed out and call back again because normally a different support worker will answer the phone. I hope this helps someone. -hugs-

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            1. I’m glad you got your account back I was as over the moon as you when I got mine back this time last year (March 2016). I would like to say that I was banned for a whole month and when I tried live chat they immediatley said they couldn’t help and advised me to make out a support ticket. I completed many tickets probably 2-3 a week as I felt that was a way to ensure they knew I was still out there. I made each one clear and direct and very polite and stated that whatever it was I wouldn’t do again and requested they review my ban. I too had each case closed without ever getting a reason why they closed it. I only telephoned them once as I don’t live in the USA, but no one would help me, the person just advised I make out yet another support ticket. It’s easy to say don’t get stressed but when your whole life appears to have been crushed it’s not so easy and there are some out there that never got their accounts back and had to result in making Alt’s and start all over again. I don’t believe that you can trust LL in every case, as it wasn’t till I contacted BBB that I got my account back, which I am extremely grateful for.

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