GridChat was created by parents who wanted a safer environment for their children to chat in. Many videochat sites either have no moderation whatsoever, or are so heavily controlled and restricted that kids go to other sites. This latter situation totally undermines the often well intentioned safer sites and defeats the whole objective.
Big brother and instant bans simply don't work
The rules of videochat have remained static for many years, but the dangers to children simply move elsewhere. Unmoderated videochat sites spring up on an almost daily basis, and kids are driven to them by those that wish to use them for their own underhand reasons, with little intervention by the authorities because what is not seen is not harmful.
Risks that you don't see
Our founders have been involved in social networking for several years. It may come as a surprise to you, but the most frequent video service that deviants choose to invite children to, in our experience, is Skype - yet Skype is seen by most as a well known, safe tool that is used by small businesses or families wanting to keep in touch. You'd be surprised how far from the truth this can be; we were!
The dangers and our priorities
Before GridChat went live in early 2012, we listed the dangers of videochat to children, in priority order, creating a suite of technology and rules to combat these dangers from the top down. The top 2 on the list look something like this:
- Physical contact from an adult. The worst possible scenario and a nightmare situation for any parent. Deviants want your child's contact information, their Skype address, their email, their social networking account, even their home address. GridChat has a blanket ban on adults asking for any contact information of any kind. The only time that contact information is allowed to be given, is in private, where both parties involved have proven their age and identity to a GridChat Moderator. An adult is never allowed the contact information of a child regardless of the circumstances. Our software changes on an almost daily basis and includes sophisticated technology to detect adults attempting to contact children outside of the GridChat environment.
- Blackmail and video capping. A blackmailer will often record a child doing something relatively innocuous and then threaten to send the video to their friends or family unless they perform other actions. Without the contact information of a child, blackmail becomes a difficult task. GridChat also provides, both automatically and by choice, an overlay of personal information on the viewers screen. This technology doesn't stop video recording - this is almost impossible, but it does make the distribution of any recorded video much harder, as it can be traced back to its originator in most circumstances. GridChat keeps extensive logs of all actions within videochat, and links duplicate accounts behind the scenes. A users IP address may change over time, their ISP may delete logs after 6 months, but our technology allows for offenders to be tracked and traced regardless of the timescales involved.
The challenges we continue to face
GridChat has evolved significantly over the past months, and will continue to evolve in the years to come. Deviants find new ways to contact children while we find new ways to scupper their attempts. Many companies offer services which seem tailored for profit above safety, providing anonymity to Internet users regardless of their online intentions. GridChat is in a constant battle to stop these users from accessing our services and has already incorporated new, innovative blocking technology into the software. It's a battle we're happy to take on for as long as the threat to our children exists.