Omegle, the widely-used social media platform, faced a sudden shutdown on Thursday, bringing an end to its 14-year run of connecting online strangers.
Launched in 2009, the video chat site allowed users to interact with new individuals worldwide.
The Chief Executive Officer, Leif K-Brooks, announced the closure, acknowledging the loss of the ongoing “battle” to sustain the service.
In a statement accompanied by an image of a gravestone bearing the name “Omegle,” K-Brooks highlighted the platform’s positive contributions in fostering global connections.
However, he also acknowledged the misuse of the platform for “unspeakably heinous crimes.”
The statement read, “Unfortunately, there are also lowlights… some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”
Omegle had actively collaborated with law enforcement agencies to aid in apprehending wrongdoers.
Despite efforts to keep the service operational, K-Brooks conceded that the financial and psychological toll had become unsustainable.
He expressed concern about the stress of operating Omegle and the fight against its misuse, stating, “Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically.”
While Omegle had been in existence since 2009, its user base surged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The platform’s popularity attracted both widespread use and scrutiny, with critics asserting that it had become a breeding ground for sexual predators.
In a notable legal case in July 2022, Omegle was taken to court by a user who claimed the platform connected her with a pedophile when she was 11 years old.
The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, rejecting Omegle’s defense based on Section 230 of the United States’ Communications Decency Act, a law designed to shield companies from responsibility for third-party content on their platforms.