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Airtime debut. It’s like Chatroulette meets Facebook!

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Big news for fans of social networking, faces, and people named Sean and/or Shawn. Bigshot investor Sean Fanning and Napster founder Shawn Parker have launched Airtime, a video chat service that lets users connect with friends or strangers.

From the NYT:

The creators of Airtime are convinced that the service’s social features will be the ticket to its long-term success. Airtime lets people use webcams to connect with their Facebook friends or strangers. They can search for new chat partners based on their interests, shared social connections and location. Once connected, they can talk or even watch YouTube videos together.

If the whole thing sounds a lot like Chatroulette, and thus fraught with the peril of seeing some perv’s junk, you’re not the only one who has thought of that:

To combat that, they have built in a number of systems, including facial-recognition software that sends up a flag if no faces are detected on camera, and a ranking system that scores people based on their interactions. People who are frequently “nexted,” or passed over for another partner, will have a lower ranking than those who manage to sustain lengthy chat sessions.
Highly ranked users are listed together as a way to ensure that serious users are matched with other people who are not playing pranks. In addition, the service captures screen images during conversations and relies on a team of moderators to keep tabs on any inappropriate exchanges.

A lot of security features sound nice. But how much is too much? Business Insider reports that the site is taking photos of every person who uses it.

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