It seems like every week there is a "world's first" going on in the online virtual world of Second Life. The world's first design degree show, the world's first online embassy the list goes on.

But not all firsts are to be celebrated.

Following rumours, made massively public by a German TV programme, of child abuse and the trading of real child pornography in Second Life, the German police is now launching a formal investigation.

Second Life is a complete virtual world entirely filled with user generated content, which players can purchase from each other using the virtual economy.

Linden Labs, the operator behind the online world, is said to be fully co-operating with the German police forces in the investigation and are very eager to chase down the real identities of the traders.

Also under investigation are so called 'age play' groups, which revolve around the abuse of virtual children and individuals who masquerade as children in order to be virtually abused.

The programme that aired the rumours said that their reporter, Mr Schader, was; "asked to pay to attend meetings where virtual and real child pornography was being shown. Members of this group also offered to put him in touch with traders of real child pornography."

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