IBM tells employees to behave in Second Life

Big Blue guidelines say don’t discriminate, harass or use inappropriate avatars

IBM wants employees who work in Second Life and other virtual online worlds to be on their best behaviour.

The company, which opened a sales center in Second Life in May, will publish official guidelines governing employee behavior to avoid potentially embarrassing incidents, according to reports by the Associated Press.

Second Life itself banned gambling earlier this month after facing an FBI investigation. But IBM is believed to be the first big corporation to issue its own rules governing employee behavior as Second Life increasingly becomes a platform for doing business, the AP says.

The IBM rules will tell employees not to discriminate or harass, or share intellectual property with people who aren't supposed to see it. "Avatars," the images that represent Second Life users online, should also have an appropriate appearance for doing business, the guidelines suggest.

"Building a reputation of trust within a virtual world represents a commitment to be truthful and accountable with fellow digital citizens," IBM states in the guidelines quoted by AP. "Dramatically altering, splitting or abandoning your digital persona may be a violation of that trust. . . . In the case of a digital persona used for IBM business purposes, it may violate your obligations to IBM."

IBM has not issued a press release about the guidelines and did not respond to an inquiry from Network World. It's unclear whether IBM employees who violate the guidelines could be disciplined.

Intel, which also does business in Second Life, is writing a "tip sheet" for employees who use virtual worlds.

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