Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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Second Life's Iranian Residents Gone From SL During Protest

Iranians in SL

When the widespread protest over Iran's heavily-disputed presidential election erupted last weekend, I went searching Second Life for Residents who lived in that country. According to Linden demographic stats published last year (as above), there were over a hundred of them then, logging into Second Life on a regular basis, and likely more this year. There are numerous Second Life groups devoted to Iran and Persia (as below), the two largest totaling over 500 members, and I joined both, sending out several futile "Hello?" messages in the group IM channel, getting mostly silence in reply. (One Iranian member finally responded, but he was living abroad.)

Iran Persian Group

During the previous few days, Linden spokesman Peter Linden confirmed to me last night, "[W]e've not seen any log-ins from Iran." I had been hoping that the Iranian government, far more focused on blocking Twitter and other Internet social networks that have become crucial communication channels for the uprising, may have forgotten to block virtual worlds like Second Life, which connect to the Internet via different protocols than web applications. However, the utter lack of Iranian log-ins in the last few days suggests that Second Life is being blocked, or that Internet connectivity has become so degraded in that country, it's shut down by default.

In any case, I'll keep looking for Persians to return to Second Life, and ask my readers to do the same. For the moment, however, it is probably better that Iranians' Internet activity center on Twitter and other such tools. As I told Roland LeGrand, who's been wondering the same thing, virtual worlds like Second Life are more powerful social change agents on an interpersonal level, for the small percent of Internet users able to meaningfully use them. A great tool for a tech-savvy Iranian woman who wants to safely explore her sexuality or spirituality in ways that would be extremely dangerous to do in her country now, for example -- but when she wants to rally a thousand students on Tehran's Valiasr Street in the next 30 minutes, not so much.

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Ran Garrigus

I don't think SL has been specifically blocked, but I do think the degradation of internet access there just makes SL impossible.

There is one possibility, though, if Internet access is up to snuff: some of them are still managing to connect by way of non-Iranian VPN connections. I don't know that LL would spot this in a cursory look of originating IPs.

The fact that you can't find any suggests Internet access is still poor, though.

Adric Antfarm

Or.....panic and riots make you not want to hang out at Prim Hearts so much as opposed to in the cellar?


Deadpan

Iran Gov has severely throttled bandwidth and probably disabling a lot of protocols.
I wouldn't be shocked if *secondlife* was on a filter rule.

Twitter is technically blocked too but alot of services act as proxies to get to it.

I can only hope we see a peaceful resolution.

Lillie Yifu

I haven't seen any of the people from Iran that I usually see.

Belial Bamaisin

SL was discontinued here in Iran since November 2008. All of a sudden SL was gone and the message was referring to DNS problem.Also SL website is not reachable.

mohammad

i am from iran it is completely impossible for us to connect to SL i tried many many anti filters and even your-freedom (that is the suggested solution in some blogs and forums) doesnt work, please help us to continue our second life!

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