"Some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes."
End of an Era
The anarchic video chat service Omegle has officially shut down amid a storm of child abuse allegations.
After 14 long years, the service has been taken offline, leaving those looking to be paired up with total strangers for an impromptu video chat out of luck — or at least switch to Chatroulette, which somehow still exists.
According to 404 Media, the shutdown may be a direct result of a November 2 settlement in a child sex abuse lawsuit dating back to 2021 in which a teen girl sued Omegle for $22 million, accusing the service of pairing her up with a pedophile when she was 11 years old.
But for Omegle founder Leif K-Brooks, it's somehow still a bittersweet moment.
"From the moment I discovered the Internet at a young age, it has been a magical place to me," K-Brooks, who was just "18 years old, and still living with my parents" when he launched the service, wrote in an announcement.
"If the Internet is a manifestation of the 'global village,' Omegle was meant to be a way of strolling down a street in that village, striking up conversations with the people you ran into along the way," he wrote.
The reality, however, was far darker than that, as K-Brooks admits himself.
"There can be no honest accounting of Omegle without acknowledging that some people misused it, including to commit unspeakably heinous crimes," he wrote.
Predators have even landed in federal prison after sexually exploiting children they met on Omegle.
In short, why didn't K-Brooks shut down the service years ago?
"Operating Omegle is no longer sustainable, financially nor psychologically," he wrote. "Frankly, I don’t want to have a heart attack in my 30s."
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