Even though Second Life has been around since late 2003, it now tastes its first life of stardom with the emergence of companies buying locations and building virtual replicas of their buildings. Sky News, a British news channel, is building a replica of the Sky News Centre making them the first television news channel to make residency in the Internet world. Members of Second Life will be able to go to the building and write their own news reports, load videos on to the server and broadcast their “news,” and even “bump into and chat with Sky News presenters and reporters”.
To me, this is the first step in many, in which a cornucopia of businesses and news stations will set up locations and are given free reign. Information will be dispersed, much like blogs, with little to no regulation. I see this going one of two ways: Companies will get their information out to the masses and people will understand it is just a “virtual reality”, or people will think that what they see is actually “news”.
Now the first option would be great. Businesses can get their information out on Second Life and people understand it’s just another medium to disperse news. But what about those people who get sucked into these kinds of “realities”? I’ve heard stories of people getting carried away with SimCity and Dungeons and Dragons. They get too involved with these other realities to decipher the difference.
As PR people, what should be our role in Second Life? How do we use this medium to our advantage without pushing boundaries? How can we create the difference between real and fake news?