At the same time, some random gamers in places like the Swedish Foreign Ministry or the French Nazi Party decide they can get some free publicity by staking out some territory and figuratively mooning the straights. Exploding pigs, flying lutefisk, and other whackiness ensues.
And then the tidal wave of mass media awareness arrives, complete with the usual foaming mess of sewage, uprooted trees, and general crap turned out by the tabloid press and cheap news channels as they try to spew one lurid scenario after another through the playground. "It encourages pedophiles! Or terrorists! Kids get into Whizzumajig and fail their college exams! Users get hair in their palms and go blind! Ban Whizzumajigs now, before it steals our precious bodily fluid!"
This is followed by the most desperately attention-hungry members of the political class picking up the stupidest articles written by the most misguided members of the fourth estate, and proposing legislation so jaw-droppingly idiotic that their sane colleagues usually strangle it in the cradle. (See also: the internet, blogs and social network software, YouTube, MP3s, and probably papyrus back in Ancient Egypt. So has it ever been ...)
And now, that Titan of Journalism, the Murdoch empire:
In SL people create their own characters, known as avatars, and live an alternative life, buying goods, real estate and living in a community of more than eight million people from across the world. They go about their lives, attending concerts and seminars, building businesses and socialising.
On the darker side, there are also weapons armouries in SL where people can get access to guns, including automatic weapons and AK47s. Searches of the SL website show there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups.
Once these groups take up residence in SL, it is easy to start spreading propaganda, recruiting and instructing like minds on how to start terrorist cells and carry out jihad.
One radical group, called Second Life Liberation Army, has been responsible for some computer-coded atomic bombings of virtual world stores in the past six months.
More details on Charlie's diary.
The very worst thing about this is that we don't dare annoy Stross even if he is an insufferable know-it-all. It's a bad idea to piss off the man voted Most Likely To Evolve Into A Posthuman Weak Deity-Like Entity.