Chat site Omegle closes after 14 years

The famous video chat site Omegle, which was launched to link like-minded strangers but became a cesspool for child predators, was shut down on Thursday.

Founded in 2009 by Leif K-Brooks, then 18, the site has faced multiple accusations over the years of being a breeding ground for child pornography and child sexual abuse.

The decision to pull the plug comes a week after Omegle settled a $22 million lawsuit brought by the parents of an 11-year-old girl who was randomly paired with a since-convicted Canadian pedophile. according to the CBC.

Terms of agreement not disclosed.

“Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially or psychologically,” K-Brooks wrote in a long statement about their decision to close the site.

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

K-Brooks, now 32, admitted: “There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes.”

Video chat site Omegle ceased operations Thursday after 14 years of encouraging its 66 million monthly global users to “Talk to Strangers!”

The Post has sought comment from K-Brooks and Omegle.

The free site, which allowed children as young as 13 to join with parental consent, had amassed 66 million monthly users worldwide before K-Brooks pulled the plug.

Omegle generated approximately $200 million in revenue per year through cost-per-click ads and selling user data.

Brooks revealed in his statement that he himself was raped as a child. The traumatic event served as the impetus to launch the site from his parents’ home in Vermont as a way to provide a safe space for others.

“As a survivor of childhood rape, I was acutely aware that every time I interacted with someone in the physical world, I was risking my physical body. The Internet gave me a refuge from that fear,” she wrote.

“I had no illusions that only good people used the Internet; but I knew that if I said ‘no’ to someone online, they couldn’t physically walk through the screen and point a gun at my head, or worse.”

However, that shelter was constantly under attack by pedophiles.

In August, a Virginia man was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison after admitting to chatting with “at least” 1,000 underage girls on Omegle and secretly recording hundreds of explicit videos, according to The Washington Post.

Anthony Benton, 21, pleaded guilty to producing and receiving child pornography.

Omegle founder Leif K-Brooks shared the news in a lengthy statement in which he revealed that he was a survivor of childhood rape.

The incident involving Fordyce began in 2014, when the girl, identified only as “AM,” was in high school and logged on to Omegle in hopes of meeting other high school students, according to the $22 million federal lawsuit filed in Oregon in 2021.

Fordyce, who was around 30 years old at the time, forced “AM” to send nude images, demanding specific “poses, props, positions and hairstyles” with specific deadlines, and even threatened to kidnap the young woman or harm her family if she was not “at his entire disposal,” according to the lawsuit.

Fordyce has since been arrested and is serving an 8.5-year sentence in a Canadian prison.

After the lawsuit was filed, Omegle took security measures after failing to have any system in place to verify users’ ages, moderate conversations on the site, or ensure that minors were not paired with adults.

Omegle reportedly generated more than $200 million in revenue per year through cost-per-click ads and selling user data.
SOPA/LightRocket Images via Getty Images

Brooks insisted in his statement that Omegle had “a lot of moderation behind the scenes, including a state-of-the-art AI operating in conjunction with a wonderful team of human moderators.”

He went on to say that he was “proud of what we accomplished” at Omegle and lamented that incidents of sexual abuse overshadowed the benefits his site provided.

“Omegle is the direct target of these attacks, but its ultimate victim is you: everyone who has used, or would have used, Omegle to improve their lives and the lives of others,” Brooks wrote.

He continued: “When they say Omegle shouldn’t exist, they’re actually saying it shouldn’t be allowed to be used; that you shouldn’t be allowed to meet random new people online. “That idea is anathema to the ideals I hold dear, specifically, to the fundamental principle of a free society that, when restrictions are imposed to prevent crime, the burden of those restrictions should not be placed on innocent victims or potential victims of crime.” .

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button