Omegle shuts down: it's been misused to commit “unspeakably heinous crimes”

“Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically,” its founder, Leif K-Brooks, said.

“Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack in my 30s,” he added. K-Brooks founded the popular real-time video and text chat platform at the age of 18 and has operated it for 14 years.

Omegle, which randomly pairs users for anonymous conversations, has recently faced increased scrutiny over its role in facilitating online grooming and abuse.

“Unfortunately, there are also lowlights. Virtually every tool can be used for good or for evil, and that is especially true of communication tools due to their innate flexibility. The telephone can be used to wish your grandmother “happy birthday,” but it can also be used to call in a bomb threat. There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes,” K-Brooks said.

In January, Omegle’s monthly traffic reached 70 million visits. While the app was predominantly used by young adults (18-24 years old), children as young as seven would also try the platform.

While Omegle had a minimum age limit (13 years), it reportedly lacked user and age verification procedures.

“Omegle is risky to use for children because they might come across inappropriate content or enter a chat with someone who has malicious intentions. Since there are no parental control settings on Omegle, children are left to their own devices,” security expert NordVPN said.

K-Brooks pledged support to law enforcement to “help put evildoers in prison where they belong.”

“There are ‘people’ rotting behind bars right now thanks in part to evidence that Omegle proactively collected against them and tipped the authorities off to. All that said, the fight against crime isn’t one that can ever truly be won,” he added.