AFTER 14 years of operation, Omegle, a site that is known, loved, and hated by many Millennials and Gen Zs has shut down.
The news broke earlier this day that Omegle founder—Leif K-Brooks decided to shut it down due to no longer being able to handle the stress and expense of operating the site and fighting the misuse of it.
Upon visiting the website, visitors are greeted with a picture of a tombstone, including Omegle’s logo and the years it operated. Aside from the picture of the tombstone, a note written by the site’s founder can be read.
“From the moment I discovered the Internet at a young age, it has been a magical place to me. Growing up in a small town, relatively isolated from the larger world, it was a revelation how much more there was to discover—how many interesting people and ideas the world had to offer,” he wrote.
What is Omegle?
Omegle is an online chat website where one can easily talk to strangers through text or video. Omegle also provides you with the option to talk to someone with the same interest by putting an optional keyword on what you’d like to talk about.
While the site stated that one must be at least 18 to be able to use the site without any parental permission, one such rule isn’t really followed, according to people who are using the site.
The site also doesn’t require any form of registration or to verify the age of the user, making the site more advantageous for pedophiles to find their potential victims for online abuse. It warned, though, to be careful when using the website, as “predators have been known to use Omegle.”
While the video chats come with three options (adult, moderated, and unmoderated), underage users can easily access them with a click of a button. By having to click the button, users will be easily directed to the live video.
“Building on what I saw as the intrinsic safety benefits of the Internet, users were anonymous to each other by default. This made chats more self-contained and made it less likely that a malicious person would be able to track someone else down off-site after their chat ended,” Brooks said.
Due to the lack of moderation in both text and video chats, young people can be easily exposed to or have access to inappropriate contents in a matter of seconds.
“There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes,” Brooks stated.
“As much as I wish circumstances were different, the stress and expense of this fight, coupled with the existing stress and expense of operating Omegle, and fighting its misuse, are simply too much,” he added.
According to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), since the pandemic, the imagery of young children carrying out sexual acts on camera has risen by more than tenfold. Meanwhile, in 2022, the IWF logged more than 63,000 web pages showing the material.
Despite the controversy, Brooks noted how Omegle’s moderation had a positive impact beyond the site.
“Omegle worked with law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help put evildoers in prison where they belong. There are “people” rotting behind bars right now, thanks in part to evidence that Omegle proactively collected against them and tipped the authorities off to,” he said.
While the site itself has caused distress to many, there are some people who are able to make genuine connections through Omegle.
Gab, a former Omegle user, shared his experience using the site.
“There were a lot of perverts, so it’s kind of a weird experience, but I met some people who I’m still friends with up until now, so it was great but weird as well,” he said.
Gab added that he felt sad upon hearing the news that the site had been part of the lives of many Gen Zs.
Brooks also talked about how the site helped people find their soulmates.
“I’ve even heard stories of soulmates meeting on Omegle and getting married. Those are only some of the highlights,” he said.
As they say, all good things come to an end.