Chat Avenue and UK undercover police, plus site review (2024)

  • Chat Avenue is a free online chatroom platform that was launched in 1999-2000.
  • It is one of the oldest and most popular chatroom platforms on the web, with over 3 million monthly users.
  • Most recently, in the news after its appearance on a Channel 4 documentary called UK undercover police
  • An Insider told me this site makes $1000 a day and is valued at $1 million.

Let me say, obviously, predators should be in prison and most website owners do not want them on their chat site, just in case someone misinterprets what I’ve written on here somehow, and I think the police are doing a good job doing this kind of sting operation.

I am using this post and documentary “Undercover Police” which featured Chat Avenues kids chat rooms on channel 4 to discuss the website in question and if the Police are doing enough.

In was a program that showed how UK police were catching predators online, by going undercover as girls and boys in the kids and teen chat rooms to try to catch people who were breaking the law there was lots of news articles about it here is one, tracking them down via their conversations and IP addresses and generally doing a good thing.

These are people usually older men or women trying to get images or photos of younger children and even trying to meet people in real life, by befriending them and grooming them.

Table of Contents

Chat Avenue and UK undercover police, plus site review (1)

The police, in fact, released a web page showing the websites in question that had the biggest issues with predators, Chat Avenue was on the list, the list is on my previous post about chatiw if you want to go there there is a link to this list.

Click the link about chatiw and chatib here, but chat avenue was also listed.

How do the police find and trace people online?

By sitting in chat rooms and by engaging them in conversations on various websites and apps and letting people message them first and be bait, Chat Avenue is just one of the sites they mentioned in the documentary that they stake out.

Places like Twitter and Facebook messenger are also places they monitor and probably many other unmentioned sites, where they would pretend to be an underage child and talk to the predators, letting the person lead the conversation and, once the law is broken, try to track them down or find them.

In fact, most abuse is not happening on your small little chat site. It’s happening on the big sites like Facebook instant messenger and Twitter right under our noses. The only difference being is that Facebook and Twitter have abuse teams setup for this kind of issue.

You see when you logon to anything on the internet, you have to release your IP address to whichever site you use. This is something that must be done or the website won’t load, all chat websites like mine log IP addresses along with times and dates of the different usernames and sessions used.

IP addresses are something your internet company provides to you to help you get online, they are unique numbers, that only one person can use at a a time, so as you can imagine there are millions of them.

It’s all done very quickly, but this does leave a footprint for the police to be able to track you down and website owners like us to track and ban you.

This is by no means fool proof, it can in some cases be harder to trace people using smartphones and the mobile network, as the IP addresses change so quickly.

There is also the use of VPNS, which hides your Ip address behind another network provider, which is pretty much impossible to track. It is not clear how the police did catch them as they would not want people to know this for obvious reasons. I only mention that here because most people who are up to no good on the internet know this.

Where can I watch this program?

The program is no longer listed on the channel 4 UK website anymore. I am not sure why. Maybe because it is a sensitive issue and it does also involve using some pretty awful content which most websites don’t add to their articles because Google can filter your pages or website for using them, but you can find it on YouTube and some other video sharing websites. It’s a tough watch, I admit, but interesting. It is also a job I could not do even though I run a chat website.

I actually have had a few run-ins with Chat Avenue myself and spoke to the owner a few times, over email and Skype. I will speak about those more down the page.

Introduction to Chatavenue review and more about the site

Chat Avenue is an online chatroom website that allows users to communicate with each other in real-time virtual area. It does have a video chat and webcam chat room also. It was founded in 1999-2000 and has since become one of the most popular chatroom websites on the internet, the homepage has changed very little over this time.

The website is free to use and allows users to create their own chatrooms, as well as join existing ones. You can register for your membership create a profile and even pay for VIP members access. As part of their membership features, you can change your username colour, for example. The registration process is pretty simple and it is all free, it also has free forums but you need to register again for this access.

Chat Avenue and UK undercover police, plus site review (2)

The user experience of the chat is quite good, but this is provided by Cody chat, the software that makes chat avenue work. The adult chat seems to be the most popular room on the site.

I am sure most men and women who use the service have no issues using the site to chat, but like all chat sites, social media websites and dating services, they are not totally safe.

Any site that brings strangers together over live conversations is very hard to monitor because there are so many people using the website, it’s impossible to monitor all the chats and this can pose a problem for website owners.

In some ways, you are relying on everyone to monitor their own conversations at some level, by blocking or ignoring rude messages, and reaching out to the moderators when you think you have found a big issue.

Chat Ave is a big site. It has lots of different chat rooms, most of which are unspectacular, there is a wide range, there is a singles chat room, a dating chat room, a teens’ chat and also, the most controversial, their kids’ chat, which made them the target of this documentary.

To their credit, chat avenue is a good anonymous way to chat and does at least have staff and moderators looking after the room or at least trying to keep the scammers and hackers out of the room, but the sheer numbers in the chats make it very difficult to monitor effectively.

I don’t agree with how their chat room conversations are managed but it is their site. They are free to do whatever they like with their site there are no laws preventing anyone from setting up their own chat room for kids to chat on.

The only issue I have is with their kids or underage chat rooms, which is why they ended up on this documentary.

I know that Chat Avenue treats their site management as a numbers game. They do not ban people as a general rule. It does not have strict rules, because the more people who stay on the site, the bigger the numbers in the rooms, most people online looking to date for love or even to meet up and flirt gravitate to the chatroom with the most users.

A bigger user base for any chat room is essential, because people come and go so quickly, sites with a small user base never get off the ground because you need numbers of people.

If you need more information about this place, you can check out chat avenue’s website with a quick google search.

What is the history of the website?

The interesting thing about Chat Avenue is that this service was started just before Microsoft chat rooms closed, which closed in 2003. Chat Avenue was started in 2000 but it would take a few years to even get the site noticed, so the closure of Microsoft chat fell very nicely for their site,

Microsoft chat was the best chat room around at the time and the only chat room people used. However, this closed very quickly and chat avenue was the main site that benefitted from this. You can find more about this on our chat history page.

If Microsoft chat was still around, I am sure the chat room landscape would be very different.

Fast forward to 2020- 2021 and chat avenue makes its appearance on undercover police catching predators (the actual name starts with another P word but I cannot use this work in this post), it only makes one appearance in the series.

World of Chat meets chat avenue.

I started this site in 2004 on the 25th of October. I did not have a clue what I was doing, but I was running a dating website at the time. I thought building a chat room would be fun and I found some nice software, so I decided to build it. It was a lot harder than running a dating website, and I had a pretty harsh introduction to the world of SEO and website administration.

Part of promoting your site back then was to trade links with someone to help get your website ranked better on Google. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time, but I went on to email most owners of chat sites. Eventually, over time, I got to know a lot of the owners and this also included the owner of Chat Ave Dan. We were not friends, we just had a few conversations over email and one on Skype.

Dan, as I know now, came into my chat room and basically spoke to me in private, saying my website was rubbish and there was no chance I was getting any links from Chat Avenue. This was a little rude, but over the next few years my site improved and it started to appear on Google. In hindsight, he was right. My web design was poor and needed a lot of work, and probably still needs work now lol

I fired off another email to Dan, who replied this time saying he would now give me a link to his site if I gave him 5 links to all of his sites, which at the time seemed a pretty good deal.

It wasn’t a good deal, it was a terrible deal, but when your website is the top chatroom on the net you can make demands from other websites. Anyhow, we swapped links and a few months later he removed my links anyway, so I did the same, so it was totally pointless. However, this would not be the last time I have spoken to Dan.

Chat room owners are mostly responsible people.

Not all people who run websites like these are totally uncaring owners. I do not honestly know if Dan from chat Ave is. Most are just normal people and I met some funny owners of websites like usachatnow with Danny and Cozzi who run many websites, but Ukchat was one of them. Both very funny and not uncaring people, who also had run-ins with Dan from chat avenue too.

I remember speaking to Dan on Skype and I happened to mention how his site seemed to attract a bad element to his site, with lots of X-rated content that seemingly was not kept in check. I said I went to your site and it was terrible. He instantly took exception to this and said that you were only jealous because my site is successful. That is not the reason I told him this. In fact, his chat room was chaotic, it was impossible to chat in there, and it still is, as the rooms are so large and people are constantly spamming the main room with X-rated images.

We argued for a little while. I cannot fully remember what was said, but he calmed down and we spoke about his chat for a little while. As I explained, I am not even in the same ball park as him. My site is totally different to his and targets a different audience and he went on to tell me how his site had got some publicity from a guy who suffered from chat addiction quite proudly as his site was mentioned in a newspaper and how happy someone with a chat addiction had got him some publicity.

But I remember being shocked at how personally he took me saying his site was bad. If you told me mine was, it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest as everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I am pretty sure mine and Dans relationship is over, but it seems this site is not going anywhere. I spoke to a person who worked on his site. He told me his site makes around $1000 a day and is worth in excess of a million pounds. This does not surprise me and I found out similar when doing research about chatiw. Providing a chat room for a lot of people can make you a lot of money.

Now I would like to be clear. I am not blaming Dan for the content of the documentary.Personally, I would not have kids or teens chat rooms on my website, but I also accept kids have to chat somewhere. If they were not on Chat Avenue, it would be happening somewhere else. Maybethe police prefer it this way so they know where to find predators who knows the police never speak to website owners.

As a website owner, we usually set the age limits to 18 plus, for a few reasons that we want adults, but there is also an acceptance that some 16 and 17 year olds will lie about their age and end up on our site chatting. If someone says they are 18, there isn’t anything you can do. I cant check their id, for example, but most people want to chat with people around their own age.

I am sure kids all use Snapchat now. But they should be free to make new friends online, but the whole documentary shows how this can be abused. It is impossible to see every person’s private conversations. It’s impossible for Chat Avenue to stop this. Do I believe they could do more, of course, but all I can do is keep my own house in order.

​Ultimately, that’s going to go down to responsible parenting and monitoring what the child is up to and not the website in question. This kind of thing should be taught in schools what you should do online and what you shouldn’t.

Website Hosts and the Internet Watch Foundation: A Call for Increased Support and Collaboration with the Police

There is an interesting aspect to this documentary where one of the police officers says website owners should take more responsibility for their sites,‘ implying we are somehow to blame for some of these issues.

Now let me tell you something about the Police and the support I had for my website when I had some issues. I will tell you clearly I had ZERO support from the Police.

I have had 2 major incidents with my website over the years, where people were posting questionable images and one where a guy brandishing a knife at users on a webcam made awful threats. I raised this issue with the police and others with the internet watch foundation. I cannot tell you how stressful this period was to get no help at all was awful.

What happened, you may wonder ?

Nothing at all.

My first complaint to the police

The police basically were not even slightly interested in seeing any kind of chat logs or evidence of the abuse and told me if I made a complaint it would have my address and my real name on it anyway, which obviously is not ideal. They talked me out of it I was made to realise I had to deal with this myself. You can try to contact the host or ISP of the user but this didn’t work either.

My complaint to the internet Watch foundation

Didn’t hear a thing. I created a long email about what happened on my site and the internet watch foundation never emailed me once, I don’t even know if they read my email.

My email to their host

Didn’t hear a thing, did the same as above, never even got an email or a reply.

Now I understand these people are busy. We are all busy, but the responsibility isn’t with just the website owners, the police and the other bodies need to support websites like us too. The internet watch foundation and the website hosts are part of this too.

If I report crimes and incidents and get no replies from the people who are supposed to help me, what is a website owner meant to do exactly? I don’t even know if anyone even read my email. They could have gone straight into the junk folder for all I know.

If no one can be bothered to take reports of crimes or even email you back, or even just say we have taken your details, we will look into this. It’s poor and saying website owners need to do more is a complete cop out literally.

Conclusion to the chat wars

The documentary is a great program and goes on to show how they track down and arrest people. The guy from chat avenue was one of the people arrested,

I do not like Dan and I do not like Chat avenues websites, but while we have the internet and anonymous websites that give people the ability to chat in real time, especially sites that anyone can access and be connected to others in seconds we are going to have these problems, the normal community websites that were once popular seem to have been replaced with quick throw away chat sites, where people don’t register an email and a password.

I cannot see how this problem will go away anytime soon sadly, in fact for the police it is probably like shooting fish in a barrel the problem is so large

Other frequently asked questions

How do I get unbanned on Chat Ave?

Pray to the gods or pretend you know Dan say you had an argument on Skype with him once, should make him laugh but seriously.

It depends, if your username is banned then that account is banned for until it is deleted, so creating a new account will get you back in the chats.

However if your IP address is banned then changing it will get you back online, either by using a VPN or accessing your mobile network for example 4g network or 5g, usually IP bans don’t last for ever.

Are there any notable success stories or controversies associated with Chat Avenue?

Yes, there have been both notable success stories

Chat Avenue and UK undercover police, plus site review (2024)
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