Chatroulette: Voyeurs' new friend

Chatroulette: Voyeurs' new friend

Chatroulette: Voyeurs' new friend

Chatroulette, which was launched in November, has rocketed in popularity thanks to its simple premise: internet video chats with random strangers.

When users visit the site and switch on their webcams, they are suddenly connected to another, randomly chosen person who is doing precisely the same thing somewhere else in the world. Once they are logged in together, chatters can do anything they like: talk to each other, type messages–or just say goodbye, hit the “next” button and move on in an attempt to find somebody more interesting.

Chatroulette describes itself as a “brand new service for one-on-one text, webcam and microphone-based chat with people around the world”, but no one is sure who started the site. The owners did not respond to an attempt to contact them by email, and they have gone to great pains to protect their identities. This may be because Chatroulette appears to operate largely as an unregulated service and, as a result, has rapidly become a haven for exhibitionists and voyeurs.

A large contingent of people seem to use the service’s string of random connections as the basis for some sort of sex game. Users regularly describe unwanted encounters with all sorts of unsavoury characters, and it has become the defining aspect of the site for some. Veteran blogger Jason Kottke, who tried the site, wrote, “I observed several people drinking liquor, two girls making out, many, many guys who disconnected as soon as they saw I wasn’t female, [and] several girls who disconnected after seeing my face.”

Spending time inside Chatroulette is becoming a peculiar form of entertainment, particularly among students around the world. From just a handful of visitors at launch, it now boasts of more than 10,000 concurrent users at any one time. Although the site says that it “does not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material” and offers users the option to report unsuitable content, the restrictions do not seem to prevent users from broadcasting explicit videos of themselves online.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)