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Omegle

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Omegle
Logo Omegle.svg
Type of site
Online chat
Voice chat
Video chat
Available inEnglish
Country of originUnited States
OwnerOmegle.com, LLC
Created byLeif K-Brooks
URLwww.omegle.com
CommercialNo
RegistrationNo
LaunchedMarch 25, 2009; 13 years ago (2009-03-25)

Omegle[note 1] is a free online chat website that allows users to socialize with others without the need to register. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously using the names "You" and "Stranger" or "Stranger 1" and "Stranger 2" in the case of Spy mode. The site was created by 18-year-old Leif K-Brooks of Brattleboro, Vermont, and was launched on March 25, 2009.[2][3] Less than a month after launch, Omegle garnered around 150,000 page views a day,[4] and in March 2010 the site introduced a video conferencing feature.

Comparisons have been made to early-1990s AOL.[5]

History

During late 2019 and early 2020, Omegle criticized the Chinese Communist Party, and expressed support for the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests, and added an image of the American Flag on the front page with the words "Xi Jinping (General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) sure looks like Winnie the Pooh" over it.[6]

Controversies

Prior to early 2013, the site did not censor contributions through a profanity filter, and users have reported encountering nudity or sexual content on camera.[7] After January 2013, Omegle implemented a "monitored" video chat, to monitor misbehavior and protect people under the age of 18 from potentially harmful content, including nudity or sexual content. However, the monitoring is not very effective, and users can often skirt around bans.[8] To complement the monitored video chat, Omegle also has an "unmonitored" video chat that is not monitored for sexual content.[9] K-Brooks has acknowledged the questionable content of the site, at one time expressing disappointment at the way in which the site has been used.[7]

Omegle and other random chat websites experienced a surge of popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increase of popular YouTube and TikTok social influencers using the website.[10] This has also caused increase of minors using the website. Numerous advisories, bulletins and warnings have been issued by both local and state law enforcement, as there have been major increases in reports of cyber-crime involving sexual exploitation of minors occurring on Omegle due to the popularity surge.[11]

Omegle is currently facing a $22 million lawsuit which was filed in 2019, in regard to a former user of the site who became a victim of child sex exploitation. In 2014, the then 11 year-old plaintiff logged onto Omegle and encountered a Canadian pedophile who blackmailed her into digital sexual slavery. The lawsuit alleges that Omegle knowingly allowed the pairing of minors with pedophiles due to a splash screen warning that stated “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful”. Omegle has since removed this warning from the website.[12][13]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Regarding pronunciation, the creator describes it as "Oh-meg-ull. I used to just say that it's pronounced like a combination of 'omega' and 'Google', but apparently, a lot of people pronounce 'omega' as oh-mee-guh, which is just strange.".[1]

References

  1. ^ K-Brooks, Leif (19 October 2009). "Oh-meg-ull. I used to just say that it's pronounced like a combination of 'omega' and 'Google', but apparently, a lot of people pronounce 'omega' as oh-mee-guh, which is just strange". Reddit. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  2. ^ Brooks, Leif (30 March 2009). "Welcome to the Omegle blog!". Archived from the original on 3 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Omegle chat program can help you find love anonymously". 14 April 2009. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  4. ^ Quenqua, Douglas (26 April 2009). "Tired of Old Web Friends? A New Site Promises Strangers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 September 2018. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  5. ^ O'Brien, Terrence (2 April 2009). "Omegle.com Lets You Anonymously Mess With Complete Strangers". Switched.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  6. ^ Restar, Al (10 October 2019). "Omegle throws jabs at China: 'Xi = Pooh!'". Z6 Mag. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Chatroulette and Omegle: chat rooms with a twist". BBC News. 24 March 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2017. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  8. ^ "A Chat with Strangers: Fun or Dangerous?". 14 April 2015. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Omegle privacy policy". 1 February 2013. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  10. ^ Lorenz, Taylor (24 July 2020). "Oh, So We're Doing Random Video Chat Again?". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Slugoski, Kendra (9 March 2021). "Child luring and sextortion cases online spike since start of pandemic". Global News.
  12. ^ Fonrouge, Gabrielle (19 November 2021). "Omegle allowed child user to become pedophile's digital sex slave: suit". New York Post.
  13. ^ A.M. v. Omegle.com LLC (United States District Court for the District of Oregon 2019).

External links