Going Under Cover – Investigating Age Play in Second Life

Going Under Cover – Investigating Age Play in Second Life

My regular readers (both) certainly remember my recent post about child pornography and pedophile behavior in Second Life. I actually announced in the comments back then, that I was tempted to look deeper into this scene. And write about it.

I was a bit hesitant at first. But hey, good journalists walk on dangerous grounds too. Of course, it would be rather silly to go and conduct interviews as Caroline Resident. No chance to get anywhere near the truth.

A job for one of my numerous ALTs.

You have seen her before on here in various disguises. Reanimated her and a few changes later she became the perfect bait. I think in the scene it’s actually called jail bait. For a reason. Lets call her Little S.

Officially she is 14. But honestly: She doesn’t look the part to be 14 really. In fact most people I got to guess her SL-age gave her something between 11 and 13 years. See featured picture for reference.

However, profile states Teen of 14 years of age. Real life tab states 18+.

One great advantage this account has is that it has matured. Meaning it is almost 4 years old. Setting up brand new ALT#s for an under cover mission, doesn’t work that well. The reason being is simple: People in Second Life mistrust new accounts.

I soon found out, that people in this scene are very nervous about talking to new avatars. They suspect it is somebody spying on them. Maybe even somebody they know (such as girl friends) or people who “bait” them and afterward report them to the Lindens.

Or, God forbid, they might even be sneaky journalists :-). Bastards!

Before I go into the story, let me clarify the legal stance on this. In the US where most of the Second Life Residents come from, age play in virtual worlds and making pictures of it is actually legal, as long as all real participants are older than 18. The age or the look of the avatar is irrelevant.

In Germany it is illegal to possess, make or show such pictures if the avatar represents a person younger than 14. Hence the reason, nothing like that to see here today.

Where to start?

That was an easy one. There is a “family orientated beach” in Second Life, which is actually infamous for being a meet & mingle place for those looking for very young flesh. And I mean very young. It is called “Golden Sun”.

When I arrived there, nothing actually indicated at all, that it is such a place. In fact the opposite is the case. You get confronted with sim rules, chat messages and signs telling you: No, no, no this is not that kind of place, we fight against that.

The rules of the place are actually very explicit and clear about this. No sex play, no explicit language, no solicitation for escort services, no groups of sexual nature in profile, no picture of such content, no lingerie, no erections, no oversized tits, no lingerie. Nothing at all that could be interpreted as non G rated is allowed.

The list goes on, including group names or words in group names which are not allowed to be shown in the profile. It looks like they covered every possible angle to keep it super-duper-extra-clean.

There is one exception: Family friendly nudism is allowed. Whatever that might be exactly.

There are shops on the sim too. Surprise, surprise. Most of the shops deal with children’s clothing. Such es swimsuits fitting the so-called SMB bodies. Mesh bodies designed to create child avatars.

Super clean and so totally G.

Really? This smelled fishy to me. Very much so. My intuition was proven right pretty quickly.

On that beach are always a lot of people. All kind of people, from little kids, teens, families …and single adults. Mainly naked single adults. The kiddies and teens are for the most part dressed actually. Hardly anyone talking in local chat, a typical indicator that a lot of Im-ing is going on.

I got hit on, every single time by one of those single men. Most days even from several guys with obvious intentions.

I was asking one guy: “Hey, this G-rated, if a girl is inclined what you do?”

“My skybox is very high up somewhere, quite and protected, nobody can see us there”.

As I suspected: Here is the meet, mingle and chat up place and from here they TP elsewhere (their secret private places) to get naughty. Simple.

Some of those guys shine a bit brighter than others. Most actually prefer a more subtle approach, using words like “fantasy” instead of sex, “preferences” instead of horny for young girls, “place with less” lag instead of my sex-skybox.

But some are downright stupid. Almost shouting: “Ban me please!”. Want an example? Here we go:

There was this guy with the very imaginative name “inudeep”. So G-rated profile too. After a bit of chatting, he offered to go surfing on another beach. Ok, nothing wrong with that so far. I wanted to know, how far he would be going, what his next move would be.

We TP-ed to another beach. Fucking ADULT rated. I tell you a secret. The quickest way to get  reported is going to a public ADULT rated location with a teen or even a pre-teen avatar. To top it all up, he got touchy using the menu of the beach bed I was originally sitting on my own.

That was the moment I did hit the little red cross on the right top of the viewer. The beauty of Second Life: You can stop any scene you are uncomfortable with in a second.

I had one day the chance to actually talk to staff of the place.  Here is how that went:

Me: Hi June

Me: can i ask you something as you apparently work here?

Her: Hello

Her: Sure !

Me: But before please understand its just curiosity I am not judgmental or something. Ok, this is a G rated family sim as by the rules. However I have the feeling it is also a dating place for guys looking for very young girls. Is that something the owner knows about or even tolerates?

Her: Yes, we do know about that. But we don’t really tolerate it. We try to keep out the pervs as much as possible, but at a place like this (with the ‘clothing optional’ rule, and the fact that all ages are welcome here) it’s almost impossible to keep it 100% ‘clean’.

Me: well its a lot actually, and again i have no issues with that. Its in the us even legal as long as both players are adults. I am just curious about it as I see it every time I am here and the Linden TOS are kinda strict about it. So “we don’t really tolerate it” kinda means that as long as in IM and as long as nothing actually happens here, ist sort of ok?

Her: Yes… We can’t judge on what’s happening in IM, until people start complaining about that

Me: fair enough

Her: Besides that, we can’t use IM conversations as ‘evidence’ if both parties didn’t give their ok on that.

Me: Well, as sim owner you don’t need evidence actually, you can do what you want on a private estate.

Her: True, we can ban for any reason we think of :). But of course we like to keep things fair

Me: The place even has on other regions a reputation for this, which is what makes me wonder, its kinda told from one to another and the Linden seem to turn a blind eye to it.

Her: Oh I think they’re keeping an eye on Golden Sun!

Me: Hence the reason the rules are very strict here about tags, groups in profile, language and so on

Her: yes

Me: makes sense

Her: The profiles are still something that’s discussed a lot within staff

Me: To me personally doesn’t matter much, I no how to type “No” haha, and in fact I kinda make fun out of them.

Her: Yeah, some visitors can be a real pain sometimes, though :P. IM’ing me about someone asking for things in IM they don’t like. And I think: “Well then block them !”

Me: Well, cant they say no I don’t want that? The other Teens i met here so far are quite nice and have high fun factor.

Her: Hehe, yes! Besides all those pervs we get some nice visitors here 😀

 

I have some good news too: The success rate of the guys is not very high apparently.

The reason being is, that the teens who go there rather mingle with other teens. Not primarily for sex dates, but basically being with other SL-teens and have some fun.

Of course, some of those friendships might actually result in more than just “teening” around. In my opinion that is totally acceptable. Lets face it, when we were teens in real life, most of us did that. It is part of a teenager life. Many of us have a smile on our faces when thinking about that first kiss, this first heart brake and that first time. Nothing wrong with re-living those happy moments in Second Life.

Nevertheless, it is not allowed by the Linden Lab TOS.

So hey, if you are a teenager in Second Life and you start some kind of relationship with another teenager, see the Lindens like you saw your real life parents back in those days. Be careful, Mom and Dad are watching you.

I visisted another region too. One that is really hard core. Compared to that, Golden Sun Beach is a monastry. Ok, as I was tying this, I realized this is a bad comparison.

But that is material for yet another under cover story.

To be continued, stay tuned.

Carol

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