Linden Lab Community Manager Amanda Linden recently dubbed Facebook "the best place to find out about cool things going on in Second Life, share ideas, and get the inside scoop on inworld events", a statement that attracted much Resident outrage (as you can see by the comment thread of that post.) How can Second Life users share content on Facebook when the social network forbids pseudonymous user names, which in principle might include SL avatar profiles? (The Facebook policy actually doesn't explicitly ban avatar names, and is mainly enforced against fake accounts used for fraud and only after user complaints, a Facebook spokesman told me.) I put the apparent problem to Amanda, who explained via email:
"If you’d like to share content from Second Life with your Facebook friends," she said, "but do not want to connect your Facebook profile to your SL avatar name you can still use any of the Facebook ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ buttons on our website (e.g. in the Destination Guide). Your Facebook friends will see that you’ve ‘liked’ or shared this content, but they will not see your Second Life username (or display name.)" (Emphasis mine, as this distinction is often missed.)
The "Like" button acts as a way of telling not just other Second Life users about virtual content you enjoy, but sharing that passion with non-SL users in your Facebook friend network. And because of Facebook's massive userbase, the networking effect naturally exposes non-SLers to Second Life content, in a way that makes them more likely to consider trying Second Life themselves. (It's one thing to read about Second Life in some random article, and quite another to have a personal friend recommend it to you.) "For our customers that use Facebook, it can be a great way to share Second Life content with their social networks –- including friends who aren’t Second Life users -- if they’d like to do that," as Amanda put it. Hence the large official Second Life page on Facebook, which is also the largest Second Life-related group on the Internet. And even more key, it's the largest Second Life group that connects to millions of non-Second Life users, through the members' extended friends networks.
It's also possible to share your Second Life identity on Facebook and other social networks, Amanda continued, on an opt-in basis:
"[I]f you choose to, you can let viewers of your SL profile know where to find you elsewhere online by linking to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube accounts. To make these connections, you need to edit your profile, select the account you’d like to link to your Second Life profile, and hit ‘add.’ If you change your mind, you can also always remove these links by again editing your SL profile. As described in Q Linden's recent blog post, there are several privacy settings to allow you to control how public you make your Second Life profile."
However, Amanda Linden also said, she understands that some Residents resist Facebook, and that's fine:
"[W]e think Facebook can be great for sharing content from Second Life with and beyond your Second Life social networks, we know it’s not something everyone will want to do. For one, Facebook’s terms require users to provide real names and information, and there are a lot of Second Life users who prefer to keep their Second Life identities private and unconnected to their real names and other networks (and vice versa.) So, just as it’s up to our users to choose whether or not they share real world info in their Second Life profiles, it will always be up to them to choose whether or not they share content from Second Life with their outside networks."