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Omegle closes after 14 years following abuse allegations

Omegle, the video chat site that connected strangers, has shut down following allegations of abuse against users.

The app has seen a surge in popularity during the pandemic, but has been accused of connecting children with pedophiles.

The site has been mentioned in more than 50 cases against pedophiles in the past two years, according to the BBC.

It was started by Leif Brooks from his parents’ house in 2009, when he was 18 – first as a text service, then as a video chat.

Originally intended to promote “social spontaneity”, the premise was that you could chat with a stranger for as long as you wanted, leaving the chat whenever you wanted.

Mr Brooks highlighted the positives – meeting kindred spirits, people talking across cultural divides, relief from loneliness – but also confronted the site’s weak points.

“There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people have misused it, including to commit heinous crimes,” he wrote in a blog post about the shutdown of the site.

“While I wish the circumstances were different, the stress and expense of this fight – coupled with the existing stress and expense of operating Omegle and fighting its misuse – is simply too much students.

“Honestly, I don’t want to have a heart attack until I’m 30.”

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Omegle is being sued by an American woman who claims she was matched with a pedophile when she was 11 and forced to become his online sex slave for three years.

Omegle’s legal team argued in court that the website was not to blame.

Mr. Brooks defended Omegle’s efforts to combat bad actors in his blog post, saying the site was “punching above its weight when it comes to content moderation.”

Omegle also worked with police to “help put the bad guys in jail,” he said.

A 2021 BBC investigation found children were exposing themselves on the site, prompting TikTok to ban links to the website from its platform.

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