Stickam Confronts the Web Video Bogeyman

Web video site and social network Stickam made the New York Times today, though it’s not the kind of publicity the company might have liked. Stickam allows users to broadcast live Web cam feeds on their homepages, something that worries some child-protection advocates, the story says.

Other social networks have decided against allowing conversations over live video because of the potential for abuse and opposition from child-safety advocates. “The only thing you get from the combination of Web cams and young people are problems,” said Parry Aftab, executive director of the child protection organization WiredSafety.org. “Web cams are a magnet for sexual predators.”

The concerns expressed in the article weren’t enough to scare away Warner from signing a deal to promote some of their music artists on Stickam. And the company does point out that they do have a community policing infrastructure set up — which is certainly something that has worked at Craigslist for years, scare stories about drug dealers and prostitutes posting ads there notwithstanding.

According to the article, Stickam and its no-rules brethren are attracting youthful users simply because they do not have the policing and filtering rules now commonplace on sites like YouTube and MySpace, the latter of which has already blocked Stickam. Cynics might point out that one way to make an unpopular, anti-competitive move like blocking without too much outcry is to invoke child-safety concerns. But why should an online video site, and the Internet community at large, be punished for the sins of a few?

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