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Chatroulette, Julia Child, and the Virtues of Virtual Friendship

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5 Responses

  1. “Friendship” isn’t really the right category to describe the interactions on ChatRoulette; it’s Internet-mediated socializing without the mutual affection or projection through time of friendship. It’s a lot closer to hanging out at a crowded bar and having random short conversations with other people there than it is to meeting up with a friend for coffee.

  2. Glenn Cohen says:

    Thanks James. I don’t disagree. I was thinking of chatroulette more as a spring board for how one might meet someone with whom a virtual friendship starts rather than as the virtual friendship itself.
    Given your writings on virtual worlds and on privacy, I would love to hear your thoughts on virtual friendship and on the crim law stuff I flagged at the end relating to chatroulette.

  3. Reading your first sentence made me think of my old Manhattan commute on the E–all of those players were usually present in my subway car! Perhaps there’s a metaphor lurking in there about how the NYC subway during rush hour is a live ChatRoulette?

  4. Kash Hill says:

    When I talked to cyberlawyer Eric Goldman about the child pornography issue, he was of the opinion that the site could run into trouble: http://blogs.forbes.com/kashmirhill/2010/03/11/is-chatroulette-breaking-child-porn-laws/

    Here’s the relevant portion:

    “It seems like any minor showing his/her private parts via Chat Roulette is producing child porn, and anyone who randomly stumbles across this minor is receiving child porn,” wrote Goldman in an email.

    Additionally, there are a number of laws on the books — “of dubious constitutionality,” says Goldman – banning the display of pornographic materials to minors over the Internet.

    ChatRoulette would not be protected by Section 230 — the Communications Decency Act, which usually indemnifies hosting companies from the actions of their users — because the Act protects websites from liability for civil charges and state criminal charges, but does not protect against federal criminal prosecutions. Goldman recommends that the site segregate users into “kids only” and “porn” categories to protect itself.”

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