The Anatomy of Internet Video Chat Rooms
Omegle – Skype – Discord
This week we examine three of the most popular internet video chat rooms, how they work, the hidden (and not so hidden) dangers, and why parents should be wary.
OMEGLE: “Talk With Strangers” (on random chat) is available on desktop and mobile devices. Users are connected to random strangers around the globe. Users can apply the GPS-based algorithm so they can recognize the distance between users.
Omegle has other more specific chat rooms such as, “Dorm Chat” for college students to socialize online with strangers, and Lady Zone, which requires a fee and has VERY strong usage terms including:
- “The sexually explicit material I am viewing is for my own personal use”
- “I desire to receive/view sexually explicit material”
- “I believe as an adult it is my inalienable constitutional right to receive/view sexually explict material”
- “I believe sexual acts between consenting adults are neither offensive or obscene”
Omegle Lady Zone had over 91,000 users online during the time of research. Their website suggests that there are about 216,000 unique visitors each day.
Omegle makes millions of dollars selling ads on these sites for services such as “Talk with Philippine Girls Live” and “Start Chatting… Video Dating Over 5000 Girls Online.”
This site carries a disclaimer that this service is not for those who want a real relationship. “This zone is generally for watching females and males.”
SKYPE: This is one of the first and most successful video chat rooms. In itself, Skype provides a professional service for users of all kinds. However, the technology is available to everyone and it is well known that pedophiles and predators use Skype to exploit young people (and some not so young). There is a fine line for a service to monitor for illicit behavior and still provide private conversations between the users. During this session, we will explore how pedophiles have used Skype to make and distribute child pornography, how predators have used it to lure teens, and how it can be the perfect grooming tool.
DISCORD: Discord is the “all-in-one” voice and text chat for gamers that’s free, secure and works on both your desktop and phone. It is perfect for chatting with team members, seeing who is playing online, and catching up on text conversations. Many parents are not even aware that their teen may be using Discord within the context of their video game. Like all gaming chat rooms, there are dangers. The very nature of a game is that your acceptance and rejection by those in the chat room is determined by your score and your aggressiveness in the game. The challenge being that any public chatroom exposes minors to unknown adults around the world, some with nefarious intentions. The child is challenged to “prove him/herself,” and they are acutely aware that they are in a world where their parents will not go so they become more adventurous believing they won’t get caught. The world of online gaming is a fantasy world with NO real life consequences. Kids are willing to take risks with strangers without being able to foresee the end consequences of their choices.
Join us Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 7a.m. PST on VOICE AMERICA – Variety Channel as we explore the anatomy of internet video chat rooms.
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RESOURCES, LINKS and CASES:
- US sex offender who groomed children over the internet had ‘at least four Irish victims’
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