By Simon Shepherd
Alarm bells are ringing over the latest internet video chat site. It is called Chat Roulette, and like its dangerous namesake, it too was invented by a Russian.
But instead of a bullet, Chat Roulette players use a webcam to connect at random with whatever it is that chance has waiting to shove in their face.
Parents are being warned not to let their kids near the site, as it connects you randomly to strangers around the world - all of it uncensored. You never know who you will meet, or what they will be doing.
"You click in, and it's a bunch of people on their webcams," says Chat Roulette user Kat Jenkins. "You walk right into their bedrooms, or their kitchens or offices, where they are."
Chat Roulette says users should be over 16 and not act inappropriately - but in reality, anything goes. It doesn't take long to find objectionable material.
"I was on it two nights ago," says Ms Jenkins, "and second click, second person, it was very X-rated - the kind of thing you expect to see on a pornographic website."
Users can quickly click through to the next person, but there are no guarantees they won't be worse - and that has prompted a warning to parents.
"If you have got filters on your computer then this would be a good site to filter," says Netsafe's Lee Chisholm. "It would also be a good one to warn children about if they show any interest or knowledge about it."
The website has grown from a few users to about 20,000 in just three months.
According to the New York Times, it was created by 17-year-old Russian student Andrey Ternovskiy, who wanted a new way to network.
Social media commentator Simon Young says it is popular because it is unpredictable.
The Chat Roulette website has been down for most of today as its creators have been struggling to keep up with demand. Whether that's demand for a new social networking phenomenon, or a new home for pornography, is yet to be seen.
source: newshub archive