By Anne Collier
Keep in mind as you read this that every new Mac has a built-in webcam, and webcams are otherwise very easy to buy, use, and conceal from parental detection. Stickam is a site parents probably don’t want to find in their kids’ browser History or Bookmarks. It’s “a year-old social-networking service that urges members to connect with others via live Webcams and instant chat,” CNET reports.
MySpace doesn’t allow Webcams or even links outward to Stickam for security purposes. That’s not to say there isn’t good stuff going on in Stickam (CNET mentions live video chat with musicians and video feeds from the Sundance Film Festival), but the problem is it’s just about impossible to enforce rules like a minimum age (14) or no obscenity where live video’s concerned. An investigative reporter researching Stickam recently told me a group of people can be chatting about a completely innocuous topic, when someone can spontaneously join in nude on camera and start “performing” – though a Stickam executive told CNET the site’s “trying to overcome these problems by developing technology to block inappropriate behavior, and by keeping a team of staff that monitors video feeds, alongside warning flags from members.” CNET adds that the site has about 40 staff to deal with all the above. It has 400,000 registered users and is “adding between 3,000 and 4,000 members a month,” mostly 14-to-25-year-olds, the site says.