Google deals with sex chat on Lively

Last week I wrote about Google's launch of Lively avatar chat, ending with a caveat that seems to apply to so much of the social Web: that there were sex-related chat rooms in the Popular Rooms list. This week CNET reports the same: "Despite some injunctions to the contrary, sexual overtones are creeping into" Lively, with the qualification that "a little snooping around revealed some evidence of borderline rooms, but nothing as risque as shows in the more permissive realm of Second Life" (which does have ratings so those who want to can avoid sex-related virtual locations). Google told CNET it's taking complaints about these seriously and is "working to remove them." I think this is an example of one of the points Oxford University professor Jonathan Zittrain makes in his book The Future of the Internet – And How to Stop It – that users' abuses of user-driven services make them less attractive to mainstream users and could have the effect of stigmatizing them or sending the mainstream increasingly to "safer," more controlled services ultimately to the detriment of what's good and constructive on the participatory Web (that may not be his main point, but it was one of my takeaways from a talk he gave).

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