Type of site
|Created by||Leif K-Brooks|
|Alexa rank||3,374 (As of 16 April 2020[update])|
|Launched||March 25, 2009|
Omegle 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 25 March 2009. Less than a month after launch, Omegle garnered around 150,000 page views a day, and in March 2010 the site introduced a video conferencing feature.
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Omegle was initially a text-only chat that paired users at random to communicate as "strangers". However, in 2010, Omegle introduced a video mode to complement the text chat mode, which pairs together strangers who are using webcams and microphones. The video chat also has a built in text window.
In 2011, the beta version of a new feature, "Spy Mode", was introduced. In Spy (Question) Mode, users have two options: to be the "spy" and ask a question of two strangers, or to discuss a question with another stranger. As the spy, the user inputs any question for the two strangers to answer or discuss and is able to view the discussion as a third party, albeit without being able to contribute further to the conversation. The spy can quit at any time without ending the chat for the two other strangers. If a user chooses to discuss a question instead, as in normal text mode, the user is paired with another stranger and can discuss the question the spy has asked up until the point the other stranger decides to disconnect and/or move on to another question.
In 2012, Omegle added a special new feature to the text and video modes, the option to input "interest" tags. Adding interests lets users be paired with a stranger who has something in common with the user. A user can input as many interests as he or she would like, and if no available match is found, the user is paired with a completely random stranger instead.
In 2013, an unmonitored version of the video chat mode was opened, leaving the original content moderator-regulated video section open to anyone aged thirteen and up as long as the content of his or her video stream is clean. Initially, questionable adult content in the video section of Omegle was filtered using image recognition algorithms only. The newer unmonitored video section allows consenting adults over the age of eighteen the freedom to view, and share with one another, uncensored explicit video streams.
In 2014, Omegle began experimenting with a "Dorm Chat" mode, which requires users to provide an email address ending in ".edu" to verify that they are associated with a college or university. Dorm Chat allows users to chat with their classmates and colleagues on Omegle.
In 2015, Omegle began implementing ReCaptcha security measures to help reduce the amount of bots on the site. This has, however, been met with complaints that bots remain and legitimate use is excessively interrupted.
During late 2019 and early 2020, Omegle began throwing jabs at the Communist Party of China, and expressing support for the Liberation of Hong Kong during the 2019/20 protests, with an image on the front page saying "Xi Jinping (General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) sure looks like Winnie the Pooh." The website also stated phrases such as: 'STAND WITH HONG KONG AGAINST THE CCP!'.
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. 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 only partially effective. To complement the monitored video chat, Omegle also has an "unmonitored" video chat that is not monitored for sexual content. 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.
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