A variation on the interactive message board, it is a Web site for live, online conversation in which any number of computer users can type messages to each other and communicate IRT. These messages usually appear on an area of the screen next to the user's nickname or handle. Most chat rooms have a particular topic (which you are expected to discuss), but some chat rooms are purely for meeting other people. Other chat rooms are designed as elaborate 3-D environments, where you select an avatar that represents you in this virtual meeting place.
Historical perspective: Online chat rooms started life as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed in 1988 by Finland's Jarkko Oikarinen. The system went largely unnoticed until 1991, when it was used to report the Soviet coup attempt despite a media blackout.
In 2013, Pakistan shut down mobile phone chatrooms teens were using for flirting. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority ordered all phone providers to stop offering the service that allowed users to chat anonymously by text—allowing users, for instance, to press 1 to chat with a boy and press 7 for age 18 to 21—because it was “contrary to moral values.” The agency said it was responding to complaints from parents, but the Pakistani press was outraged. “The intermingling of young men and women is not a matter that should concern the state,” the Karachi Dawn said in an editorial.
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