Omegle, a popular video chat service that randomly connects users with strangers, has shut down after 14 years amid misuse of the platform and increased scrutiny by online safety regulators. In a lengthy statement announcing the closure, website founder Leif K Brooks said that operating Omegle is “no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically,” and that fighting to prevent it from being misused is “simply too much.” While the website remains live to host Brook’s statement, its anonymous video chat function is no longer accessible.
Omegle gained a reputation as a breeding ground for sexual abuse of minors, leading to a prominent lawsuit in which the website was accused of pairing an 11-year-old girl with a sexual predator. The decision to shut down the platform comes at a time when global lawmakers are introducing strict online safety regulations to prevent child sexual exploitation, such as the UK’s Online Safety Bill.
“There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes,” said Brooks. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who used Omegle for positive purposes, and to everyone who contributed to the site’s success in any way. I’m so sorry I couldn’t keep fighting for you.”