Official notice. Short version: a new category of content (currently there is only two, “PG” and “Mature”) will be added, and users will have to verify they are an adult to access it.
Wagner James Au’s article (with interview with Linden Lab officials) amusingly denotes that most of what you or I would consider X-Rated isn’t, really.
I gave a specific example to Cyn and Roberts. One of the more popular roleplaying groups in SL is “Dark Den RP Group”, which by its own description, offers “Kidnap, auction and slavery RP”. Would that be designated as Adult? Surprisingly, both suggested it wouldn’t, since the wording is “not about sex and violence.”
How about “Capture” roleplay, generally associated with S/M sexuality? Again, they suggested, if sex wasn’t explicitly mentioned, it wouldn’t be defined as sexual.
Meanwhile, the official support page on the subject implies that most Resident skins (which include [NSFW LINK] photo-realistic nudity because, well, you know) would be flagged “Adult” under the new system. Responses from Linden Lab representatives on message boards have been, not surprisingly, contradictory on that point.
Which means that what this is really all about is corporate CYA. Linden Lab has to date made quite a tidy business off of creating a virtual world that has a squeaky clean public face and, thanks to a combination of libertarian lack of content filtering and the ability to create literally anything, a private face that, well, has people parsing what “capture roleplay” means. Or, as a commenter on the Massively coverage put it,
If you can’t find adult content in Second Life, your Internet must be out of pixels.
Considering that Linden Lab has been making mutterings about revamping adult content flagging for what seems like years now, it may be a while before any of this comes to fruition. Or, it could happen immediately!