Omegle, a popular website that allowed people to chat, talk and interact with strangers from all over the world, has shut down after 14 years. The website’s owner- Leif K-Brooks, said he made the decision because “stress and expense of operating Omegle, and fighting its misuse – are simply too much.”
Founded in 2009, Omegle was a platform that allowed users to interact with random people on the internet without having to reveal any details about themselves. The anonymous online chat service did not require users to register to chat, which might be one of the reasons why the service gained massive popularity.
The online chat service saw an increase in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people were stuck in the vicinity of their homes and couldn’t talk or meet with others.
Omegle users could choose if they want to engage with strangers via text, voice or videos. The platform also had an ‘Add your interests’ option where people could narrow down their search to meet people with similar interests.
However, the online chat service often found itself in hot waters, with users often complaining about paedophilia, racism, abuse and sexism. In the last few years, Omegle has also seen a multi-fold rise in child sex abuse and nudity.
While Omegle tried to fix the issue by introducing moderated chat rooms, working with law enforcement agencies and increasing the minimum age limit from 13 to 18 years, the problem was that there was no age verification process and most people engaged in nudity and racism faced no consequences.