Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child Labor?

October 23, 2009 -

An initiative that offers virtual payments for use in social and online games in return for performing tasks may promote child labor speculates a post on ReadWriteWeb.

CrowdFlower, which focuses on harnessing “cloud labor” from around the world and Gambit, a company that specializes in facilitating payment solutions for online games, offer users of games like MyFarm real-world tasks to perform—such as tagging photos or reviewing content—and returns payment in the form of virtual currency.

What caught the eye of ReadWriteWeb was Gambit’s explanation of its latest offering: “…making this a superb way to engage younger users, or international users in emerging markets.”

The article’s author, Dana Oshiro, wrote:

While others might argue that the web-task barter system is akin to earning one's allowance, the fact that children could be scraping the web to help businesses advertise to us seems somewhat exploitative. While it's too early to say how this program will pan out, there's no doubt that CrowdFlower and Gambit will have to walk a fine line to keep this program ethical.

A Gambit employee, Susan Su, jumped into the comment section to provide a little clarity, writing that while Facebook does not “knowingly allow” users under the age of 13 to register, “it's always tough to enforce requirements like these on the Internet.”

Su continued:

That said, we do know that users over the age of 15 make up the bulk of our transactions, and while parental consent is still strongly recommended for people aged 15-18, it's true that a lot of teens are making their own spending and work decisions around that age. As Lukas said, this is completely new territory for social game users, for developers, and for Crowdflower and Gambit.


Comments

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

...the fact that children could be scraping the web to help businesses advertise to us seems somewhat exploitative. While it's too early to say how this program will pan out, there's no doubt that CrowdFlower and Gambit will have to walk a fine line to keep this program ethical.

Wow, really? 'Could'? They can only do so much. It's like they're saying the first factories of the Industrial Revolution would end up exploiting people (A loose analogy if that, I'll admit) as if it's directly the fault of the machines. Blame the people exploiting the system, not necessarily the system itself.

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

what the hell is cloud labor?

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

 "Cloud labor" is the term used for taking a certain task (e.g. data entry), splitting it into small chunks, and asking many people to perform their assigned task in exchange for a small payment.  Basically, you are contracting many people to transcribe a form or something for $0.05 per form rather than hiring an individual for $10/hr.  Of course, you still need to do QA.

 

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

'Child Labor' has become a bit of a loaded word.

Children are permitted minor employment all the time.  Child labor laws were created to stop the excesses and abuses that you got in the early days that would do things like keep kids out of school or even force them into work.

If a kid wants to make a few bucks in their spare time by providing a service, I do not see that as exploitative.  I think we have gotten a little to far into the 'anything a child does that someone else benefits is exploitation' mentality and completely ignore that these are human beings capable of having their own desires and making their own (with parental supervision) decisions.

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

Agreed.   The term "child labor" loses all value if it can apply equally to children toiling in some hellish Dickensian textile mill for 70 hours a week and kids making a bit of money fiddling around on the internet in their free time.

Check out my video game humor and commentary blog at http://pointlesssidequest.blogspot.com/!

Check out my video game humor and commentary blog, Pointless Side Quest! http://pointlesssidequest.blogspot.com/

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

Its like add the word kid or child to it and people stop thinking 0-o


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


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Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

This isn't something new really. How about amazons www.mechanicalturk.com ? Where you get paid real money instead of fake money for doing tasks. Seems like that would draw in more people. 

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

Next they will say underagers watching TV/web comercails are working....


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

Hey! For someone with Carpel Tunnel, pressing the up/down arrows to change the channel could be a very daunting and laborous task...

Re: Cloud Labor within Social Gaming Facilitating Child ...

Calling it "labor" is REALLY stretching the definition to breaking point.

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