Omegle, the anonymous video chat site, shuts down after 14 years

Omegle, a website that connected strangers for video chats, has shut down after a lawsuit accused it of facilitating child abuse.

Founder Leif K-Brooks announced the closure Wednesday in a lengthy statement posted to the website that touched on what he saw as positives about the platform and the future of the internet. He wrote that Omegle had been used “to explore foreign cultures; to get advice about their lives from impartial third parties; and to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.”

But he also noted the platform’s struggles with child predators.

“There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes,” K-Brooks wrote.

Launched in 2009, the website initially gained traction with teens but remained a relatively fringe video-chatting platform, though clips of funny or strange interactions and pairings sometimes spread across the internet. Its cultural resonance ebbed and flowed, with a new burst of popularity on TikTok and YouTube in 2020.