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Are using chatroulette sites the same thing as cheating?

A: Chatroulette is a site, created by an individual or an organization, that allows people to secretly record and share video chat conversations. Whether someone is consenting or not, the underlying premise is the same. We're all affected by what people do with the material that they share. You can't force someone to stop using a site that they're on, and that's true regardless of whether you're a sexual predator or a victim. What we're trying to say is that these sites have serious serious serious consequences if people use them responsibly. And we want them to be responsible stewards of their users' personal information. Q: But isn't the idea of a private Internet different from a public Internet?

A: Yeah, absolutely. And so is Google, the company that owns and operates the Google chat platform, is a responsible steward of its users' personal information. But you know, I think it's important for people to remember that these sites were originally designed to allow people to secretly videotape each other. That was the idea. And what they ended up doing was they ended up selling intimate, confidential video chats between people who were supposed to be private, like with parents or teachers or a therapist or someone. And the problem with that is now existing predators all over the country are able to find students who are using these sites, they get video of those private chats, and then they can identify how to exploit those materials to abuse those victims. And it's going on across the country.

Q: So you're saying some people think that these sites shouldn't be used for video chats?

A: Yeah. A lot of people think these sites should be avoided. And to be blunt, I do. But I also think that the idea of having private videos of each other's private parts is actually a really exciting idea.

Q: So did the founder of chat see this as a threat? He thought it was just another way for people to have fun?

A: Yeah. And so in his defense, we should probably talk about this guy.

Q: So what did he think? The people who used the site were generally teenagers, probably U.S. teenagers, mostly in their 20s or early 30s. They were highly impressionable, had at least one or two problems, in most cases, that lasted a lifetime. They were generally outgoing. They were kind. Most of them were polite. Most of them were strange.

A lot of the people who studied the site's forum apologized profusely. They talked about their shock and their remorse. They took the site back. And there were ways to beg on the site that were actually pretty easy: remove the promise of a certain amount of money, remove the option to buy virtual items. But the site as it was prior to those changes was generally used by people who were extremely rudimentary.