Stickam, a social networking site that places emphasis on chatting with friends by means of a webcam, states in its Terms of Service (TOS) that it retains the right to “monitor the content of any messaging that occurs on or through the instant message service;” however, it may come as a shock to learn that they regularly do monitor the webcam chats, including private, friend-to-friend chats. Neil Hotkiewicz learned the hard way.
Neil (shown right) had been using his webcam to chat with friends on Stickam for quite some time; although, upon activating his account, he failed to properly read the 3,500+ word TOS, as the majority of people also overlook.
But, therein, lies the statement:
AVC, in its sole discretion shall have the right (but not the duty) to monitor the Content Posted on Stickam including the content of any messaging that occurs on or through the Stickam instant message service whether the Content is Posted in a public area or a non-public area.
Now, Neil wasn’t exactly playing by the rules. There was a point in his private, friend-to-friend chat where there was brief nudity; however, the most interesting detail in Neil’s final chat was: the second when this inappropriate content was flashed on screen, his video went black, followed by a message stating “You’ve been banned.”
“I wasn’t aware that Stickam would monitor my video,” Neil said, in an interview. “I feel horrible knowing they’ve been monitoring me.”
Not only was Neil’s e-mail address banned, but his IP was tagged, preventing him from creating a new account. It’s the end; no three strikes or second chances, one slip and you’re banned.
When asked whether or not he had read Stickam’s TOS, Neil replied, “I didn’t know anyone did.”
Out of 20 randomly chosen Stickam members we interviewed, 19 said they were totally unaware they were being watched, while 1 said he was unaware but could understand why they would monitor chats.
30% of those also added that they simply “didn’t care” about being watched, though most admitted that it’s “creepy” to know someone may be watching their private chats, behind the scenes.
Some people may feel the need for Internet privacy, but the hard truth is, in today’s Internet, there is no such thing.