Omegle, the popular live chat and video call site with strangers, is closing after 14 years. The many reports of abuse by users were decisive and forced the founder to announce the definitive stop. The messaging service had grown in popularity, especially among teenagers, during the pandemic. The image of a tombstone and a final message from its creator, Leif K. Brooks, who launched the platform in 2009 when he was just over 18, appeared on the site last night. Today he explains that the management of the website “is no longer sustainable, neither financially nor psychologically”.
A difficult period for social media
Omegle’s demise comes at a difficult time for social media platforms as they face increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world. The social network has been the subject of controversy, as the BBC recalls, including an epochal case in which a young American accused the platform of having randomly paired her with a pedophile. The user was a minor when the incident occurred, and the lawsuit against Omegle was filed 10 years later, in November 2021.
The defense of the lawyers
Omegle’s legal team argued in court at the time that the website was not responsible for what happened and denied that it was “a haven for predators.” However, the British broadcaster found that Omegle had been mentioned in more than 50 cases against pedophiles in countries including the UK, US and Australia. Brooks admitted, however, that “there can be no honest assessment of Omegle without acknowledging that some people have abused it, even committing unspeakably heinous crimes.” Without providing specific details, she also highlighted the “constant barrage of attacks against communications services” like Omegle by “a group of malicious users.” “As much as I wish the circumstances were different, the stress and expense” against it all “is just too much,” she added. “Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack at 30,” she concluded, bleakly.