After 14 years of existence, Omegle, a well-known service for anonymous video chats, is shutting down due to the increasing abuse of the platform and its association with unspeakably heinous crimes. The platform, which was founded in 2009 by the then 18-year-old programmer and high school student Lif K-Brooks, was self-financed throughout its existence.
Although its popularity has waned over time, it attracted about 50 million visitors last month, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb. "I didn't really know what to expect when I started Omegle. Would anyone even be interested in a website created by an 18-year-old kid in his parents' room in Vermont with no marketing budget? But it became popular almost immediately after launch and grew organically, reaching millions of daily users.
I believe it had to do with the basic human need to meet new people and the fact that Omegle was one of the best ways to fulfill that need," K-Brooks wrote in a blog post. Omegle has come under fire after it became a hotbed of suspicious activity during the pandemic, which saw a surge in its use.
K-Brooks said the firm has tried to implement a number of improvements over the years, but "recent attacks have been anything but constructive." "As much as I wish the circumstances were different, the stress and cost of this fight—in addition to the existing stress and cost of running Omegle and fighting its abuse—is simply too great.
Running Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially or psychologically. Frankly, I don't want to have a heart attack," K-Brooks expressed. K-Brooks, who appears to have run the service himself, expressed his dismay at how the internet has changed over the past decade.
"The battle for Omegle is lost, but the war on the Internet continues. Almost every online communication service has been subject to the same kinds of attacks as Omegle; and while some of them are much larger companies with much greater resources, they all have their own breaking point.
I worry is that, if direction is not changed soon, the internet I've come to love will no longer exist, and in its place will be something more like an upgraded version of television - aimed mostly at passive consumption, with far fewer opportunities for active participation and real human connection."