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27th April
2010
  

Offsite: Next!...

Chatroulette: The most disturbing internet craze yet?

ChatRouletteLate on a weekday afternoon and I'm sitting at my computer. On the screen in front of me are two small boxes - little video streams - one above the other. My face is in the bottom box. The face and bare torso of a man is in the one on top. Let's call him Gerry.

Beside Gerry's face is a box into which we can type, so that we can chat to one another. So he types hello and then asks where I come from. I say hello back and tell him I am from London.

Our exchange has lasted barely seconds, but suddenly another message pops up. He's asking me if I will remove my top so he can see my breasts. Olivia Lichtenstein and Francesca

He is a complete stranger, and one of the many crude and deviant men I have encountered in the past 30 minutes.

I quickly click a button to have him removed from my screen.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the world of Chatroulette - an internet site that is turning into something of a phenomenon.

...read full article

 

18th June
2010
  

Update: Bubble Prick...

Chatroulette to be censored?

ChatRouletteChatroulette has been on the rise since earlier this year, when it suddenly became an international phenomenon. It has been the source of numerous viral videos, but it's also been the source of voyeuristic male masturbators. Currently the company is looking for investors in Russia and the U.S.

However, it looks like the service lost some of its steam in the month of May. According to web analytics firm comScore, U.S. traffic dropped nearly 7% from 1.564 million visitors in April to 1.327 million in May.

While Chatroulette's decline doesn't surprise us, it has to be troubling to Andrey Ternovskiy, Charoulette's 17-year-old founder. He seems to be taking action though, reportedly working on software to weed out the penises that have plagued Chatroulette's reputation.

What is Chatroulette really about, though? Is Chatroulette a social utility for people to meet each other through video? Is it an entertainment tool for groups of friends? Or is it just an anonymous network where anything goes?

These are important questions for Ternovskiy to answer before a turnaround becomes possible. Legitimizing the service by weeding out the genitalia may make it more viable to investors, but it could potentially accelerate its decline, not reverse it. It all depends on how people want to use the service.