The Federal Trade Commission last week said minors can access explicit sexual and vilolent content in 70 percent of the virtual worlds it reviewed in a congressionally mandated report and urged virtual world operators to make key enhancements aimed at reducing the risk of youth exposure to such content.

The FTC found at least one instance of either sexually or violently explicit content in 19 of the 27 virtual worlds they investigated and observed a heavy amount of explicit content in five of the virtual worlds studied.

According to the FTC, of the 14 virtual worlds in the study that were, by design, open to children under age 13, seven contained no explicit content, six contained a low amount of such content, and one contained a moderate amount. Almost all of the explicit content found in the child-oriented virtual worlds appeared in the form of text posted in chat rooms, on message boards, or in discussion forums, the FTC stated.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the FTC said it saw a greater amount of explicit content in worlds that were geared towards teens or adults. Twelve of the 13 virtual worlds in this category contained explicit content, with a heavy amount observed in five worlds, a moderate amount in three, and a low amount in four. Half the explicit content found in the teen- and adult-oriented virtual worlds was text-based, while the other half appeared as graphics, occasionally with accompanying audio, the FTC stated.

The FTC noted that most sites have some policy or technology in place to prevent minors from accessing explicit content. The FTC said in particular operators of teen- and adult-oriented virtual worlds rely on community policing measures to enforce conduct policies. Some worlds also employ live moderators to monitor heavily populated areas and help control conduct in those areas. Some worlds use language filters to prevent objectionable language from entering into text-based communications in-world, with limited success, the FTC stated.

p>Source: PC World
http://www.pcworld.com/article/184521/virtual_world_smut_too_accessible_by_minors_ftc_charges.html