Launched in November 2009 by Andrey Ternovsky, Chatroulette is an online chat website that pairs random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations.
Visitors to the website begin an online chat (including text, audio and video) with another visitor; at any point during the chat, either user can leave the chat by initiating another random connection. Ternovsky says that the concept for the site arose from video chats he had with friends on Skype. The site grew rapidly in popularity, with 1.5 million users by March 2010, approximately 33 percent of them from the U.S.
Chatroulette has received criticism due to the offensive, obscene or pornographic materials that some users exhibit on the site. It has been called a “predator’s paradise” and parents have been warned to keep children off the site. In response, Chatroulette has discouraged children under 18 from using the site and encourages users to report offensive or pornographic behavior. If three users complain about the same participant within five minutes, the user is temporarily banned from the service. Chatroulette has also developed an algorithm to filter out obscene content.