Random chat website Omegle is shutting down after 14 years of service. The website, used by tens of thousands of people every day, is being axed at the will of founder Leif K Brooks.
Since launching in 2009, Omegle has been one of the most popular online meeting places for people around the world. The service has also seen its fair share of controversy due to the prominence of predators that take advantage of the platform’s anonymous nature.
In a statement regarding the website’s closure, Brooks explained that the positive impact Omegle has had in helping people find friends doesn’t outweigh the maliciousness of those who misuse the site.
The founder explained that he believed the internet was a beautiful place early on, and that the “global village” of online communication could be expanded by meeting new people.
“If the Internet is a manifestation of the global village’, Omegle was meant to be a way of strolling down a street in that village, striking up conversations with the people you ran into along the way,” Brooks said.
Brooks told fans that running the website has been both “financially and psychologically” stressful. The founder explained that he doesn’t want to “have a heart attack” in his 30s as a result of managing Omegle.
“One aspect of this has been a constant barrage of attacks on communication services, Omegle included, based on the behaviour of a malicious subset of users,” Brooks explained. “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. Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically. Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack in my 30s. I’m so sorry I couldn’t keep fighting for you.”
Over the past few years, Omegle has been cited in more than 50 cases of online child abuse in the United Kingdom, reports BBC. The platform has even been the center of court cases where some blame the website for pairing victims with abusers. Some social media platforms — such as ByteDance’s TikTok — have banned sharing links to the service over the rampant harassment that occurred there.
The loss of Omegle has hit hard for fans of the platform, with many even starting the “RIPOmegle” hashtag on social media platforms such as Twitter. However, in the ashes of the platform’s closure, there are many Omegle alternatives that still prove highly popular, but they also suffer the same issues as Omegle.