Introduction

Launched in November of 2009, Chatroulette.com blasted into the social networking scene offering a unique combination of social networking with youtube like video capabilities. Chatroulette, featured on Good Morning America and written about in the New York Times and New York Magazine, is a website that pairs complete strangers with each other for video based chats, often racy, raunchy, and bizarre.

Chatroulette was created by 17 year old Andrey Ternovskly, a high school student in Moscow, Russia, with a $10,000 investment from his parents (which he quickly paid back). A regular Skype user, Andrey recognized the potential for social networking like chat using a video based medium. He wrote the first Chatroulette version in “two days and two nights” using Adobe Flash to access the user’s webcam and display the video. When he launched Chatroulette in November 2009 from the bedroom of his home, he attracted 500 visitors. One month later the number had exploded to 50,000 users. By 2010 the site was estimated to have 1.5 million users.

Chatroulette User Base

Chatroulette’s user base is predominately male. Statistics show that most “spins” pair the user with an American. 89% of the users are male with only 11% being female (while 33% of the females participate in groups). A user was twice as likely to encounter a sign requesting female nudity than to actually encounter a nude female. 1 in 8 spins yields objectionable content. 1 in 10 spins yields a penis shot. Nudity has become an established part of the site’s notoriety.

A user who who’s cat partner clicks the “next” button to move to a new chat partner, is said to have been “nexted”. The basic premise is to present something off-the-wall, racy, bizarre, and freak your chat partner out. You might see naked people, masturbating people, or people wearing bizarre masks. In one instance, a user reported a man holding up a sign that said, “Assroll?”–and promptly rolling over backwards, naked.

Dangers of Chatroulette

There were no age restrictions on the site in 2010. It is perfectly common to carry on a conversation with a 13 year old girl. Parents should understand that video conversations on Chatroulette are unedited, unrestricted, and often obscene.

Many new sites have been introduced that mimick the Chatroulette functionality.