Chatroulette puts new spin on chat rooms

By Joe DeMarzio
February 17, 2010

The upgrade in technology has taken its next victim: chat rooms.  With the popularity of social networking expanding, so are the capabilities.  Chatroulette is the next big site to try and become No. 1 in the social networking world.  It’s a chat room with a twist.  When you go to and click “play,” a live-streaming stranger will appear on this screen.  If you wish to talk to this stranger, then you can chat in the text window to the right, and if you do not want to chat with that stranger, you can click “next” and move onto the next one.  The Web site is known internationally so it doesn’t come as a surprise to have people from different countries pop up speaking in a different language.

“The concept of video chatting with strangers and not knowing who they are or what they are going to do is really intense.  I had no idea what to expect when my friends showed me Chatroulette,” Gillian Davis, senior communication major, said. “I thought it would be just some friendly folk just saying hello, but sadly, it wasn’t.  It wasn’t at all.”

The founder, Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student who lives in Moscow, said in an interview to the New York Times that “I only did it for fun,” and he never expected to have any “business goals” for it.

“Chatroulette is the best to go on when you have a group of people that can make fun of all the idiots on there with you.  It’s hilarious.  I’m addicted,” Christian Nunan, sophomore math major, said.

Who shows up in the screen is completely random, so it could be a really cool person or a 50-year-old pedophile and you will never know.  You could be talking to one person or a group of people.  The screen is always focused on one camera at a time until you “next” the person, or until they “next” you.

“Chatroulette is the one of the most disgusting Web sites I’ve ever been on; the men on that Web site are perverted and gross.  Some people are funny, but others should not even be allowed on the site,” Jacky McDermott, sophomore elementary education major, said.

The content on the Web site has no limitations whatsoever, which can definitely raise a concern for parents and their children.

“I honestly think this will probably be shut down soon or will fade quickly because of the content that is on Chatroulette.  If there were any way to monitor exactly what is shown on camera then maybe it will become a more popular trend to network or meet people, but as of right now it should be an 18-and-plus Web site,” Davis said.

Unlike other social networking sites, this one was spread entirely by word of mouth.  Ternovskiy never invested in advertisements.  All the funds that were “donated” to him by his relatives went to buying seven servers that are spread across Germany.  He said in his interview to the New York Times that he has “never been to the United States” but he “thinks it would be best to have Chatroulette as a United States based company.”

“The strangest thing that has happened to me on Chatroulette was meeting a student at the university I studied abroad at.  It was incredibly surreal because we would both exchange facts about the campus and what we studied.  It turns out we may have seen each other in London, but met while in different countries,” Davis said.

Joe DeMarzio

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