Video chat famous for all the wrong reasons deleted by founder

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The creator of website Omegle cited assorted issues with running the platform, admitting it’s been used to commit “heinous crimes”

Free online video chat Omegle has been taken offline by its founder, Leif K-Brooks, who bemoaned a pile-up of challenges in running the platform. The site was taken down on Wednesday, with K-Brooks posting a lengthy statement to explain his decision.

“Virtually every tool can be used for good or for evil, and that is especially true of communication tools, due to their innate flexibility. The telephone can be used to wish your grandmother ‘happy birthday’ but it can also be used to call in a bomb threat. There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes,” the site’s founder wrote.

Omegle first went online in March 2009, promptly becoming extremely popular and soon getting its iconic videotelephony feature, allowing random strangers to talk with each other.

“Over the years, people have used Omegle to explore foreign cultures; to get advice about their lives from impartial third parties; and to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. I’ve even heard stories of soulmates meeting on Omegle, and getting married,” K-Brooks stated.

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Over the years, however, the website repeatedly ran into various controversies, including sexual exploitation of children, racism and other inappropriate and offensive behavior. It eventually gained notoriety across the broader web as the ‘best’ place to watch strangers expose their private parts. Originally, the website admitted users as young as 13 if they would get their parents’ approval, though it went 18+ last year.

While the platform has increasingly cooperated with law enforcement and introduced tighter moderation over the years, the issues persisted, K-Brooks admitted. Running the platform had ultimately become “no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically” and he did not want to “have a heart attack in my 30s.”

“In recent years, it seems like the whole world has become more ornery. Maybe that has something to do with the pandemic or with political disagreements. Whatever the reason, people have become faster to attack and slower to recognize each other’s shared humanity,” the founder of the now-defunct platform suggested.

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