Internet Relay Chat, IRC, chat rooms are considered to be a thing of the past. When they initially came into being they garnered a lot of attention and traffic. It was a magnificent way to connect with people and they discovered that they could make friends and ask for help on a public forum without compromising their identity. This made these chat rooms very popular amongst people of all ages and backgrounds. Since many were free there was nothing acting as a barrier preventing a person who has never seen the world from connecting with new people and vicariously living through these friends. However, contrary to what many believed chat rooms did not end when the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook etc. were introduced, these chat rooms still exist!
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Pakistan still has more than a dozen free chat rooms that have different chat rooms such as chat rooms connecting Pakistanis to Arabs, British, other girls and boys of their age etc. It helps people broaden their horizons and thus this form of socializing increased and remained relatively popular even after Facebook was introduced. A lot of them have online radio or music systems that allow users to listen to music while they talk to people; an example of this is Chattingcorner, a chat room with online FM radio.
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Some of these chat rooms have their own rules specifying that vulgar or abusive language is looked down upon as well as impersonating someone else, harassment and asking for advice on illegal topics such as hacking and otherwise, breaking any rules will lead to being banished from the chat room. Though this is not an effective method to keep people from doing just the things that are mentioned it is still the first step in the right direction.
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The anonymity offered by these chat rooms is the main feature that makes them inviting but also the base of the very reason that makes them unsafe. The anonymity maximizes the ways people might encounter harassment as one is more careful about one says when one’s name is attached to it. However, at the same time people are less likely to talk openly about their problem when their real identity is known as it can lead to repercussions they do not want to deal with. In this time of screenshots who will ever speak openly about say their addiction or a problem they have they are ashamed of, even on private groups, when someone could easily take a screenshot and make it public. This would lead to embarrassment and even being ostracized from the society or circle the person is familiar with. While these chat rooms do have their own disadvantages, compared to Facebook and other social media mediums such as Whatsapp chat rooms give more opportunities to people to connect with people they do not know rather than just talking to people they know like on these aforementioned apps.