In Bad News Week, we take an irregular peek at some of the most mixed up and counterfactual reporting that the mainstream media performs on virtual worlds and MMOs, and lay it out for your interest and entertainment. The UK Mirror's Jon Clements reports "Police probe Second Life over virtual crime wave" from which you might reasonably infer that there is a crime wave going on in Second Life, and that you're about to read about it.
Well, you'd essentially be wrong. Let's take a look and what the Mirror had to say.
"Detectives are probing internet fantasy world Second Life amid fears of a virtual crime wave."
Well, that right there says something rather different to the original title. Granted it's a subtle distinction but an important one. Metropolitan Police's E-Crime unit and Portsmouth University are trying to find out if crime is going on, of what nature and how much.
Detective Chief Inspector Charlie McMurdie said: "Millions are made in Second Life. Where there's money there's crime."
Well, yes. That's a sensible sort of observation. Top marks. It is certainly right to investigate these things. There is nothing given indicating that a crime wave is actually taking place in Second Life, however.
The Mirror goes on to say that about 800,000 people in Britain have created avatars. Actually, that figure isn't available from Linden Lab, but the total of active UK users as at the end of January 2008 is 41,182. The percentage of active users from the United Kingdom is 7.58% however, and if you apply that to the overall total signups, you get roughly around the quoted ballpark. However there is no evidence to suggest that the numerical/geographical relationship holds true.
Dutch police arrested a teenager on suspicion of stealing £2,800-worth of furniture on the site...
Oh dear, the Mirror has mixed up their virtual worlds. They are referring to this Dutch teen, who swiped £2,840 worth of furniture in Habbo Hotel using a phishing scam. Bad journo. No cookie for you!
(Oh, and it is Linden Lab, not Linden Labs. We're just saying)
Update: Techradar has picked up the same mixed-up piece of reportage.