Lively, the latest experiment from Google Labs, is yet another part of cyberspace where the Mountain View search company has decided that exploring sexuality is officially verboten. The 3D virtual world is Web-friendly, but sex-hostile. The no-sex-please-we're-Googlers policy began with Web search, where, by default, the company's SafeSearch filters which block explicit content are turned on for all users. Then came YouTube, where the company refuses to manually police for copyright infringement but employs a staff to keep women's nipples from ever appearing. And now Lively, where the community standards state:
We don't allow nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. This includes making sexual advances toward other users.
Of course, how exactly to you define "nudity" when you're talking about animated avatars? Of course, you can hug all you want, but drawing the line between friendly embrace and creepy come-on is not something that can be algorithmically determined. It's obvious that the company is desperate to avoid any publicity that associates it with anything related to sex. Which is a shame, because if there's anything more "mainstream" than the sexual reproduction which perpetuates our species, I'd like to know what it is. Where do Larry and Sergey think the Kinderplex's overpriced clientele come from? (Photos by rcooper)