Good day PixelTail Games.
It is with the deepest regret to announce that I will be cancelling my Patreon subscription, effective immediately.
As much as I would like to continue financially supporting the game and helping to keep the servers running, I am finding it increasingly difficult to justify doing so. This difficulty is not so much out of personal financial concerns, but more out of ethical, moral, and legal concerns.
These moral and ethical concerns are borne out of three principles.
- The recent complaints of the seemingly lax approach to the moderation of user generated content, and user conduct. As discussed in the thread; “Unpopular opinions about TU?”.
This in relation to an issue in which I had reported a player for inappropriate conduct with regards to trolling and actual sexual harassment in the US East 1 nightclub some days ago - using the appropriate channels that you have required me to use (the in-game report system). and it would seem that no action has been taken against them as they have seen to be still active in the game.
Let me be clear; ALL allegations of sexual harassment are to be taken super seriously - at all times, regardless of whether or not evidence was provided. It is not wise to simply dismiss or discard a report where allegations of sexual harassment of all things are being raised, even if no harm (physical, or otherwise) was done. I feel like a very thin line is being tread here, and continuing with this precedent could render yourselves liable to potential future legal repercussions. That is not to say that I have intentions of seeking legal recourse against PixelTail, because I do not.
As for the lax moderation; the game can not be effectively moderated by simply relying on user generated report forms alone. There needs to be at least, some form of a visible in-game presence - so that direct intervention can be taken for the most serious breaches of the rules as they happen.
An in-game presence and direct intervention will set a precedent so that the players will know where they stand with regards to moderation, they will know where the line is and not to cross it. On the contrary; an absence of in-game moderation and no direct intervention just sets a precedent for outright anarchy.
I see comments over on the Tower Unite subreddit claiming that “moderation is taken very seriously”, and given by what I’ve learned about and observed over the last few months of play, I am seriously starting to have my doubts.
- Allegations being made against yourselves with regards to harbouring paedophiles and allowing child porn to be hosted in condos.
I am currently aware of a recent dispute between yourselves and persons whom up until recently have been banned from the forum; whose name shall not be mentioned, whom has made allegations against yourselves with regards to the harbouring of paedophiles and allowing actual child porn and other such illicit materials, to be on display in condos.
This is dangerous territory as you genuinely have minors playing the game.
As I understand it, your position on what happens in condos is outside of your remit, and that the responsibility of what players are allowed to do inside condos ultimately lies with the respective host. The problem is, however, that if again any of these allegations are true, it is still taking place in your game.
If for example, you have consulted with your legal team and determined that the content and conduct in player condos is legitimately outside of your scope, then you are morally obliged to display a disclaimer screen absolving yourself of responsibility prior to joining any condo server, and disclaimer text on such a screen should be explained in the simplest terms possible.
If you haven’t yet consulted with your legal team, then you yourselves, by extension, still have an obligation to moderate what is taking place in condos. Better to be safe than sorry, no? If again, these allegations being made against you are true, then quite frankly I am nauseated at the thought that you yourselves are by extension allowing this to occur and that this is quite simply beyond the pale.
Lastly, if allegations of sexual harassment made through the report system aren’t serious enough to warrant an investigation and potential suspensions and bans from the game, then what is?
- No statements or policies concerning commitment to transparency and accountability.
The events of January 6th’s attempted insurrection and overthrowing of the US congress has undeniably, prompted many of us to question how it got to this point, and this has also forced the hand of big tech’s social media platforms to clamp down on both offensive and inappropriate content and conduct, both far and wide.
The lack of transparency and accountability on big tech social media over the last decade or so is to blame for the rising tide and spread of misinformation, toxic politics, conspiracy theories, radicalisation, among other things.
While I understand that PixelTail Games are not exactly big tech, it begs the question as to what you are doing with regards to COPPA compliance, as I am genuinely interested to know.
I would also like to see more transparency with regards to moderation, and what you yourselves are doing to combat malicious conduct in-game.
What about your infosec procedures? How can I be rest assured that my data is safe with you?
All this is to be taken as constructive criticism. I must have spent the best part of an hour or so in wording this as carefully and tactfully as possible. I have thought long and hard about this. I have proofread and proofread and proofread down to the last letter.
If there is anything I may have got wrong, please do correct me.
I do truly love the game and wish to see it grow, but I can not continue with my Patreon subscription at this current moment of time.
I wish to see a positive change and revision with regards to your policies and procedures first.