Airtime Offers Video Chat with Facebook Friends and Strangers
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
June 05 2012 03:47 PM ET
Billing it as the first live video network, Sean Parker and partner Shawn Fanning — of Napster and Facebook fame —launched Airtime for Facebook today (June 5).
While Facebook has video built into its chat function, Airtime allows people to connect with friends of friends and other users with common interests — in other words, with strangers.
If you were looking for a good argument to raise rather than lower the minimum age for joining the social network, Airtime is it. [Twitter and Facebook Grapple with Age Limits ] The video chat app is a step beyond the infamous video site Chatroulette that randomly pairs strangers for real-time chats, but the potential for exhibitionist encounters still exists. [Chatroulette Not Safe for Kids, Despite New Safety Measures ]
Airtime has some safety measures built-in to discourage inappropriate behavior. If users are under the age of 18, they will be paired only with other minors. Further, "content" reported as harmful to minors (including behavior by minors) will be sent on to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the site's FAQs. [Cyberbullying Worse Than Parents Know ]
For the curious, here's how Airtime works:
- Log onto your Facebook account, search for Airtime, authorize the app and click to start your webcam. You'll see a list of your Facebook friends along with options to connect with people nearby, friends of friends, and online users with shared interests. For now, the shared-interest option produces the most matches because the app is so new and has few users.
- Before you select your connection, you can edit the interests that Airtime pulled from your profile. Check the ticker at the bottom of the window to see what's trending — you can add or delete interests in your list.
- Choose a friend to chat with, or select from the three options to expand your social network. Once the person you've selected accepts your video chat request, you both have equal real estate on the screen. Airtime will post a list of the interests you have in common as conversation starters. You can also watch a video together by playing one you've already shared on Facebook or search YouTube — these options appear under your interest list.
In theory, Airtime could be a powerful way to expand your circle of friends, but it could easily go very wrong, very fast.