Chatroulette is an online service that links random people together on the Internet for webcam-based communication and entertainment. The program allows users to converse using video, audio, and text messages. Either party in a Chatroulette conversation may cancel the session at any time for any reason.
Chatroulette was invented by Andrey Ternovskiy, a high school student in Moscow, Russia. He came up with the idea after spending a lot of time talking to his friends on Skype, a similar webcam-based technology. In 2009, Ternovskiy launched Chatroulette from his bedroom computer and the traffic poured in. After the first month, Chatroulette was getting 50,000 visits per day.
Chatroulette can thank several celebrities for its recent success and notoriety. Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Kevin Smith, and Joel Madden have all admitted to using Chatroulette, and it has been parodied on The Daily Show and South Park. San Francisco-based rock legends Faith No More even streamed a European festival performance on Chatroulette in the summer 0f 2009. They featured a giant video screen on stage to display the reactions of the unsuspecting visitors.
Chatroulette is also the source of a lot of controversy. There are several reported cases that involve people exposing their private parts or masturbating to unsuspecting visitors. Although Chatroulette is completely safe for the user, parental supervision is strongly advised for younger users.