Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Chat Roulette: A Gamble We Can Live Without!

When I first started giving Internet workshops in 1995, there were a few
sites that I used to give people a snapshot of what the web was all about.

The most popular of these sites was called WebRoulette. You would click a button and be taken to a random web site.

But this post is not about WebRoulette. These sites still exist though WebRoulette has long since been bought by a casino site. Random web site generators still exist, but be careful. Some harbor spyware, but this post is not about spyware. It's about the 21st century version iteration of this phenomenon, Random Video Chats.

You read that right. If you go to chatroulette.com and click the start button, your web camera will start up in one window and you will be face to face with a random stranger in another.

I first heard about it in a Facebook post from Kerstein Creative that said, "The most unusual, intriguing, weird, frightening concept in social networking I've read about yet. (Can't say I've seen it, because I'm a little freaked out by it.)" and pointed to this article in the New York Magazine. http://nymag.com/news/media/63663/

After reading the article, I had to check it our for myself. The results were very much as described in the article. Here's a snapshot of what I saw. It really reflects the part of my block description that says "with great latitude given in the definition of human."

In a four minute period I saw 66 males and 7 females mostly in the teens and 20's. There were 22 connections that had their cameras blacked out and 6 "others". Others were cameras pointing at signs, walls, or other object.

The disturbing part was that of the 66 males, 6 were X-rated. There was one set of breasts displayed and unquestionably the most bizarre connection was this one.

Do I even have to say it? A web camera in the hands of an unsupervised teen, is an invitation to trouble. I understand that they might use it to talk to grandma or aunt Tillie, but do you want them talking to this guy? If your child has a web camera, at the very least, have a long talk with them!

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posted by Art @ 9:27 AM   9 comments


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