Do you feel lucky? Chatroulette brings new spin to Internet life

Nicole Fano

Forget about Facebook and YouTube, because Chatroulette has quickly become the newest online obsession. Chatroulette, or, is a Web site that connects random users through a one-on-one video chat. It’s different from other video calling programs such as Skype or ooVoo because no personal information is available. Chatroulette is similar to the casino game roulette, in the sense that it’s all up to chance. You never know who, or what, you’re going to get.

Why is it so addictive? Many people are cautious about the videos and pictures they post on Web sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace, out of fear that someone will post a rude comment. On Chatroulette, there are no names to go along with the faces. It is a completely anonymous Web site that allows people to act completely uninhibited—in fact, too uninhibited.

There is also a “next” button which allows you to instantly connect to another user. If you feel awkward, or you don’t want to talk to someone, next them. Of course you might be “nexted” too, but that’s all part of the game.

Although it is a fairly recent Web site, Chatroulette connects nearly 20,000 users from all over the world. Similar to Facebook and YouTube, the Chatroulette site claims to not tolerate “obscene, offending, pornographic material.” Ironically, Chatroulette is full of obscene, offensive and pornographic material.

“I don’t find Chatroulette as much offensive as I do comical. Yes some of the guys really need to learn boundaries and how to respect people,” sophomore Eryka Ubertini said. “But people have to understand that those kinds of people are out there, and all we can do is laugh at their expense.”

The Web site’s terms of service states that users must be at least 16 years old. Perhaps this is because Chatroulette’s creator is 17-year-old Andrey Ternovskiy from Moscow, who according to the New York Times, created the site because he became bored talking to the same people on Skype.

“Everyone finds his own way of using the site. Some think it is a game, others think it is a whole unknown world, others think it is a dating service,” Ternovskiy told the New York Times.