Like something straight out of a science-fiction horror movie — and there are plenty of examples to chose from — a 21-year-old from Scandinavia says he was paired with a video of his younger self doing explicit sexual acts when he recently logged back on to cam chat service Omegle.
Back when he was younger, the man, identified by the first name Michael in the BBC's reporting, sometimes used the site to masturbate with strangers.
"I started going on the site again and started doing 'stuff' on camera with different people," Michael told the BBC. "Video sex."
But he had no idea his younger self would come back to haunt him.
"I'd quit the site for over a year but one afternoon I randomly got paired with a video of myself on the website doing 18+ stuff," Michael told the British broadcaster. "Someone had recorded me masturbating and had been using it for at least a year."
Understandably, Michael was horrified. The service wasn't just simply playing a recording.
"It was like a fully advanced system with different video sequences of me doing different stuff," he recalled.
Omegle told the BBC it was "deeply disturbed" by the story and is hoping to enhance its "moderation practices to eliminate" any chances of the situation happening again.
"The inappropriate behavior that has occurred, while a very small percentage of the millions of daily interactions, is deeply disturbing to me and unacceptable," Omegle creator Leif K Brooks told the broadcaster.
"I am constantly stressed about it, but I find peace that at least my face is not in it," Michael said. "But it pains me I am used that way to hurt other people. In fact, I believe this is the way I was groomed into the site as a 14-year-old, although I can't confirm the other person was fake at that time."
It's a troubling story, especially considering the website saw a massive increase in traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among younger people. Shockingly, as the BBC points out, there is no way to report strangers on the website.
"I can't imagine how distressing it must be to find someone using a video of yourself in this way, but these virtual cam bots are something we do see being used to trick and coerce children into sexual activity," Sarah Smith, from the internet safety charity The Internet Watch Foundation, told the BBC.
The company claims it is using an automated artificial intelligence-based system to monitor the site around the clock, yet Michael's story goes to show that it's still impossible to crack down on sex-baiting bots.
READ MORE: Omegle: 'I'm being used as sex-baiting bot' on video chat site [BBC]
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