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It recently occurred to me that going on Chatroulette isn't all that different from renting an apartment a block off of Sunset and Vine — which I was bright enough to do after graduating college.

Much like the Internet, Hollywood has more than its share of seedy neighborhoods, and mine was one of the sketchiest.

Within the first week, our neighbors managed, with Drunk Hulk enthusiasm, to bend their heavy screen door in half; a tide of zombied-out prostitutes surrounded my car as though they were re-enacting the opening scene from Night of the Living Dead; and a guy went walking down our street attempting to sell sides of beef he'd just stolen from Ralph's Supermarket.

It wasn't all good times. One of the more unsettling things turned out to be the exhibitionist who stared blankly into the bedroom window while doing what a lot of people do on Chatroulette.

I don't think I could recognize the guy in a lineup, much less on Chatroulette where webcams tend to zoom in awfully tight. And now, with a just-introduced localized service, it'll be that much more up close and personal.

This week's cover package looks into the risks and benefits, if any, of this evolving social medium. So read here and, as always, check out the neighborhood before you move in.

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