A gamble on the good, the bad, the offensive

By Sable Stevens

The latest web fad, Chatroulette, is bound to get more media
reports on the potential abuses than popularity points.

“I saw a bong, which was apparently more important for
communication than the guy’s face and a sign that was scribbled
like paint with the message ‘flash your boobs,'” said Daniel Stehr,
a fourth-year philosophy student. “I would probably not want to go
on it again because it is kind of strange.”

Chatroulette’s site features a disclaimer, “Chatroulette does
not tolerate broadcasting obscene, offending, pornographic material
and we will have to block users who violate these rules from using
our service.”

Sam Anderson of the New York Magazine said it gives sexual
predators an easier way to expose themselves to minors.

“[It was] something I didn’t expect, but something I would never
want to watch,” said Scott O’Connor, a second-year civil
engineering student.

The site requires its users be at least 16 years old to chat,
but there is no registration required and therefore no means of
filtering.

Once on Chatroulette, the user is prompted to accept the Flash
plug-in for activation of the webcam and microphone. The next step
is to “click play to start the game,” the site says.

The user’s webcam is activated automatically, connecting the
user directly to another random user.

There is no sure way of knowing the identity or location of the
person one is in contact with.

By using audio to chat or typing responses, there is the
opportunity to ask for these answers but the truth is
uncertain.

That is the glory of the “next button,” which can be clicked at
any moment to disconnect from unwanted or undesired chats.

The question arises, “Why even go on the site in the first place
when you can go to Starbucks to talk to the person in front or
behind you?”

Richard Sanchez, a first-year architecture student, would not
log in by himself but with his friends for the entertainment
factor.

“It’s a new experience every time,” said Sanchez. “I would go on
it again to show someone else. I would suggest it to someone as a
form of humor.”

Although some find the acts of these users laugh out loud funny,
USA Today has red flagged the site.

“For every teenager innocently strumming ‘Freebird,’ there’s a
man engaging in sexual behavior in front of an online audience,”
according to USA Today.

New York Magazine ran a feature on Chatroulette’s potential as a
new feature of the Web and its content, saying the site has all
kinds of potential dangers from privacy issues, regarding the
taking of screenshots and spreading them across the Internet, to
sexual content to violence.

Wired.com provided five reasons why Chatroulette is addictive
and worth a try even though there is a 90 percent chance of certain
body parts and sexual acts will be present.

” Inner Internet exhibitionist unleashed, no strings attached,
which means to act crazy without consequences of the other person
to insult you.

” The next button, which eliminates an awkward excuse to get
away from the person,

” A throwback to a bygone, unpoliced internet era: The
old-school AOL chat rooms are back.

” Talk to all kinds of people all over the world

” It’s fun.

Reach Sable Stevens at: lifestyle@thepolypost.com

A gamble on the good, the bad, the offensive

Illustration by Paul Rosales

A gamble on the good, the bad, the offensive

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