It sounds like a cross between Facebook, Second Life, and Habbo Hotel, and it's coming soon to a Facebook profile near you, the New York Times reports. It says there are several products in the works, but one such "turns a flat profile page into a three-dimensional live chat room. Users choose characters to represent themselves from a list of preternaturally handsome avatars … and proceed to one of a dozen environments, like a gothic urban warehouse or seaside villa. With videogame-like precision, they can then navigate that virtual space, which may feature their Facebook photos hanging from the walls and a YouTube video playing on a widescreen TV. Up to 15 others can choose avatars and enter the same room at the same time for text-based live socializing." When I first read this, I thought, "oh no," because online chatrooms are notorious for virtual sexual encounters and starting points for potential teen victimization. "Characterized by names like 'Single and Looking,' they often devolved into noisy chaos," the Times reports, or worse. That darkside is possible here, too, if avatars can wear risqué clothing or be put into sexual poses, but teens looking for this can find it already on the Web. Here's the latest on Facebook's new instant-messaging feature from CNET.
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