You then have the choice of either chatting to them or disconnecting and being matched with another user from around the globe.
Hal Niedzviecki, author of 'The Peep Diaries', said: 'Chatroulette is stark because it feels like television.
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Some commentators say the website is a throwback to the heady early days of the web and the first experimental chatrooms.
For my part I hope we have learned to be more cynical and less trusting since then.
The website also claims obscene material will not be tolerated but countless users have reported being exposed to shots of men performing obscene acts in front of the screen.
At any given time, tens of thousands of people may be logged on.
First came Facebook, which connects you with close friends and school mates you don't really talk to anymore.
Then came Twitter where you could 'follow' and be followed by complete strangers.
After an hour we closed down the system, somewhat drained by the effort of making small-talk with people we had never met before.
The experience of being beamed into a stranger's bedroom feels intrusive and unsettling and has worrying implications for teenagers who are more used to sharing personal information on the web.