The February Washington Post (Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/05/AR2008020503144.html) reported: “U.S. intelligence officials are cautioning that popular Internet services that enable computer users to adopt cartoon-like personas in three-dimensional online spaces also are creating security vulnerabilities by opening novel ways for terrorists and criminals to move money, organize and conduct corporate espionage.” The article went on to say that there were attributes of the virtual world that it makes it an attractive operating environment for transnational threats: “including anonymity, global access and the expanded ability to make financial transfers outside normal channels”
While I’m an advocate of PSYOP adapting to the platform of the audience and I’ve certainly made a number of posts concerning the efficacy of Cyber PSYOP, I’m drawing the line at PSYOP in virtual worlds.
SecondLife FAQ states that: “Second Life is the size of a small city, with thousands of servers (called simulators) and a Resident population of over 12,405,461 (and growing).” (Source: http://secondlife.com/whatis/faq.php#04, accessed 12 February 2008). It is a virtual world built by its residents. Users are attracted because they want to “discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity.” (Source: http://secondlife.com/whatis/, accessed 12 February 12, 2008)
SecondLife and similar sites may be a limited means for our adversaries to communicate, exchange funds and perform other nefarious tasks furthering their ends, however, this medium is not quite ready for PSYOP.
PSYOP skills and resources are in high demand. Optempo is at an all time and it’s necessary to prioritize where we get the best bang for the buck. There are several reasons why SecondLife would not be a good user of PSYOP resources. First of all there is no proof (so far) that there are spies or other adversaries on SecondLife, secondly it would be difficult to find them even if they are present making it difficult to send messages their way and thirdly, there is likely to be high percentage of SecondLife residents who are US citizens.
Consequently, I believe we ought to pass on SecondLife as a possible PSYOP environment and use our resources elsewhere.