14 years after its launch, Omegle closes its doors. He does so with a statement from his creator, Leif K-Brooks, in which he explains difficulties that a platform of this nature faces.
Brooks explains that “it’s not sustainable, financially or psychologically.” The decision comes amid an ongoing storm of lawsuits and closure requests of the website. Finding profiles with intentions of sexual abuse was not uncommon, according to the complainants.
It’s the end of an era. In case you don’t know Omegle, we are talking about a website with the main objective of meet strangers and chat or talk to them via video call. You opened the website, connected, and a random pairing was automatically made. According to data from Semrush, at the beginning of 2023 the website received more than 70 million visits.
The minimum age to use it was 13 years, a strong handicap that allowed the interaction of minors with adults. In February 2023, an anonymous lawsuit went viral via the BBC. The young woman told the story of how at 11 years old she suffered abuse through the application, suing the platform for randomly pairing her with an abuser. It is not the first case, Omegle is involved in more than 50 cases related to alleged cases of pedophilia.
After weathering the storm, Brooks appears to have surrendered to the pressure. The cover of Omegle shows a statement in which its creator is sincere, explaining that the website was born with the idea of ”meeting new people.”
“I launched Omegle when I was 18 and still living with my parents. It was meant to harness the things I loved about the Internet, while also introducing a form of social spontaneity that I felt didn’t exist anywhere else. If the Internet is a manifestation of the “global village,” Omegle was meant to be a way to walk down a street in that village and strike up conversations with the people you bumped into along the way.”
Brooks explains that over the years, users have used Omegle for good purposes. But he does not deny that there have also been “negative aspects.” An AI was implemented for content moderation of which he claims to be proud, although it has not been enough.
“If something as simple as meeting new people at random is prohibited, what’s next? This is far removed from anything that could be considered a reasonable commitment to the principle I outlined. Analogies are a limited tool, but an analogy to the physical world It could mean closing Central Park because crime occurs there – or perhaps, more provocatively, destroying the universe because it contains evil. A healthy, free society cannot endure when we are collectively so afraid of each other.”
“Unfortunately, what is right does not always prevail. As much as I wish circumstances were different, the stress and expense of this fight (along with the existing stress and expense of operating Omegle and fighting its misuse) is simply too much. Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially or psychologically. Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack when I’m 30.”
Following the statement, Omegle closes its doors permanently, saying goodbye to a website that had been active since 2009.
Image | Omegle (modified with Photoshop Generative AI)
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