Our webcam girls want to be absolutely sure that they are chatting with users over the age of 18. Genetic scientists love the humble Fruit Fly (Drosophila melanogaster) because it has such a short life-cycle; several generations can live, reproduce, pass on genetic material, and die within a month.

While the potential to see such content is certainly a clear reason for some people to avoid the website altogether, the fact that these issues are indicative of online culture can also serve as a reminder that teaching young adults, and older ones, strategies for dealing with unwanted material can be vitally important.

For some, the risk isn’t worth the visit, but for others the richness of random connectivity can be enjoyed with a keen sense of when to look away, when to engage, and when that F9 key will save your sanity.

Social media researcher danah boyd expressed this far better when she said: “I realize that this creates the potential for seeing some pretty gross and/or problematic things and I certainly don’t want to dismiss that, but I’m pretty certain that teens are responding the same way that I’m responding – by clicking Next. Probably not.”2 Ideal or otherwise, it’s a sensible strategy for most Chatroulette users.

On the moral panic front, sometimes the only way to contextualise the excesses of the media is to take those excesses to their logical extreme, which is where Jon Stewart’s team on The Daily Show excel.

This mash-up uses screenshots and the IP addresses of Chatroulette users to extract geographic locations and place them on a Google Maps-powered globe.

The map only features a tiny percentage of users, and is only updated periodically, but as their FAQ points out, anyone with a little technical know-how can easily extract this information.

Indeed, far from sinister, the creators of the Chatroulette Map clearly have their own notion of privacy they’re trying to respect, as they currently display this notice on their landing page: “We’d like to advise to stop using student’s names in their hostnames.

We’ve decided, at least for the time being, to hide IP & host information as some user-identifiable information was found in some entries.” What the Chatroulette map clearly flags is that in online contexts, notions of privacy and anonymity are slippery at best.

Privacy Despite the notion that Chatroulette is anonymous, like most moments online when people presume their identity is shielded, this ends up being far from guaranteed.

The clearest illustration of just how private Chatroulette comes from a very quick glance at the Chatroulette Map.

Chatroulette presents a smorgasbord of the human condition, with shocks, cocks, hugs, and friends all potentially staring back from your computer screen.