January 23, 2005 at 3:54 pm #11511imFilesMember
Found this on the net, might think its ok..
The tyranny of online voicechat
by Graeme Harris
—-No one likes to be cheated or feel ripped-off.
—-When an honest, hardworking person pays for a service which is sub-standard, from a company which treats him or her like a nobody rather than a valued customer, the effect can be soul destroying. Such a company is Paltalk Software Inc, run by Jason Katz of New York.
Expulsion from Paltalk is common, often with no legitimate reason given. It would appear Jason Katz does not tolerate dissent.
—-Originally founded in mid-1998, Paltalk is an internet voice chat program which boasts a membership of over four million users. Many articles have appeared about the prodigy that is Paltalk, about the good things it has achieved; things like re-uniting relatives parted for many years. Using internet telephony and voice conferencing, Paltalk seems to have effectively brought the whole world together, something which has been praised by the online press. According to Jason Katz, speaking to the New York Daily News, several suicides have also been prevented thanks to Paltalk; online weddings are commonplace and people are just over the moon to be able to sing in one of the many karaoke ‘rooms.’ Sounds almost too good to be true? Well, yes it is. The truth about Paltalk is far more sinister than the hype. Speaking from information gathered over a two month investigation, there are just two words which adequately describe Paltalk — greedy and powerful.
—-For the annual sum of $14.95 subscribers are promised live streaming web cameras and an end to pop-up windows and banners. This they do receive. The problem is that Paltalk seldom runs smoothly. It has been known to go offline for hours, even days at a time for maintenance upgrades, leaving both paying customers and non-subscribers with nowhere to talk. Any complaints to Paltalk about this are just ignored. Unhappy customers simply have to keep quiet, and anyone attempting to complain runs the risk of having their account terminated. Expulsion from Paltalk is common, often with no legitimate reason given. It would appear Jason Katz does not tolerate dissent.
—-The chat program is ‘policed’ by a team of power-mad hypocrites called ‘Red Admins,’ so-called because their names appear in red text in the chat rooms. The Red Admins are in a definite hierarchy, most being volunteers whose job is to help users with technical problems pertaining to Paltalk. Unfortunately, the majority of Pal helpers are utterly useless techno-idiots whose computer prowess stops if a user requires anything more complex than a microphone check.
—-Some Admins are there to enforce Paltalk ‘laws’ and to stop illegal activities occurring in the various chat rooms. According to the rules, Paltalk does not allow room discussions or individuals to discuss bestiality, paedophilia, or to partake in any kind of criminal conspiracy. These rules are regularly flouted by members, and such offences ignored by the Red Admins.
—-As an example, on one occasion I witnessed a woman on webcam indulging in oral sex with a dog in an adult rated room. When I explained to the room owner that this was a clear violation of Paltalk rules I was accused of being too conservative, whilst the woman taking part in the unnatural sex act was goaded on and praised for her courage at “Giving the room such an unusual show.” I was eventually ejected from the room via a ‘bounce,’ a simple function used to remove trouble-makers.
—-This kind of power is so often abused and the bounce function used far too frivolously by room moderators or their co-admins. Some Red Admins even have the power to read personal messages sent from person to person. Highly unethical and very ‘Big Brother,’ but Paltalk maintains its ability to intercept personal text messages is to ensure that nobody breaks the rules.
—-Corruption is rife amongst Red Admins. Many have non-admin friends using the program and are sometimes urged by these friends to terminate someone’s account or ban a person outright as a favour, which gives out a fear factor among Paltalk chatters. People engaged in an online argument will often use the threat, “I have a friend who is a Paltalk Admin,” the ultimate aim of which is to frighten their adversary into submission or apology; and invariably it works, because despite its shortcomings, Paltalk becomes addictive after a while and most users live in fear of being banned from the program.
—-Articles in the mainstream media have claimed that Paltalk is an excellent voice chat program, used to break down the inhibitions of budding karaoke singers and to bring potential sweethearts together. Its main use, however, is as a masturbation tool. This is evident by the number of adult rooms in use, as opposed to rooms of a milder nature. At any one time there are hundreds of such adult-related rooms, some of which cater for hundreds of people at a time. Clicking on any of the user webcams in one of these rooms presents the viewer with various forms of exhibitionism, from (as aforementioned) bestiality, old men with young girls, couples, threesomes etc.
—-“Okay,” a person might say, “If this is not your thing then don’t go in the adult rooms — no one is forcing you.” True, but what about children under eighteen years old who regularly visit these rooms? This is something categorically denied by Paltalk, but something which definitely goes on. The official Paltalk policy is to bounce from an adult room anyone under eighteen, and this is the duty of the room owner. But it’s a little difficult in practice; after all, who can tell the age of a someone who neither speaks nor is visible on webcam? The supposed solution to this problem was the introduction of a 13-17 year olds’ category; not ideal, however, as the teenagers in these rooms are regular targets for paedophiles. I have personally seen men over forty years old masturbating on webcam in teen rooms. As a result, on one occasion, I called in a Red Admin to take control which he did by reluctantly closing the room. The Admins claim to police the teen rooms much more strictly than other rooms, but people seem to get away with much before the Admins step in; this incident proved that Paltalk’s policing is woefully inadequate as the damage was already done.
—-Hackers and virus-spreaders are a real threat to the voice program too. There are programs out there to ‘boot’ chatters from rooms, programs which can uninstall vital files from a computer, and viruses and Trojan horses are circulating all the time. One group responsible for the development of anti-Paltalk programs is the H2K Clan, made up mostly of college kids whose objective is to make the life of the average Paltalk patron a misery. Oddly enough, within the past few weeks the H2K group have established their own room where they claim to voluntarily ‘beta-test’ new versions of the program for bugs and security flaws, with the full approval of Paltalk. Not a very fitting way to punish a group of hackers who have been its scourge for many months.
—-Jason Katz, Paltalk’s C.E.O. was unavailable for comment when I rang the company, just the dulcet tones of an answering machine greeted me; but a copy of this article has been forwarded to his offices, which are situated on the thirteenth floor of an old New York garment factory.
—-In a world obsessed with greed and self-aggrandizement, Jason Katz and Paltalk are up there with the best of them. Money minded and desperate for power, Jason Katz, I am fairly sure, will not be happy until he has the entire monopoly on voice chat programs. Then and only then will he have achieved his goal of making the world of online chat his oyster.
—-Paltalk can be contacted at the following address: Paltalk Software, Inc., 213 West 35th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001. Phone number: 212-564-9997.
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