Omegle has been shut down after 14 years.
The free online chat site, which launched in 2009, allowed users to socialise with others without needing to register.
It would randomly pair users in one-on-one chat sessions where they could be anonymous.
After nearly 15 years, it has now been announced that the service will be shut down.
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An image of a gravestone with the Omegle logo has been shared on its website, accompanied by a statement shared by founder Leif K-Brooks.
It reads: “From the moment I discovered the Internet at a young age, it has been a magical place to me.
“Growing up in a small town, relatively isolated from the larger world, it was a revelation how much more there was to discover – how many interesting people and ideas the world had to offer.
“As a young teenager, I couldn’t just waltz onto a college campus and tell a student: ‘Let’s debate moral philosophy!’
“I couldn’t walk up to a professor and say: ‘Tell me something interesting about microeconomics!’. But online, I was able to meet those people, and have those conversations.”
Brooks recalled how he was an ‘avid’ Wikipedia editor and would often help answer computer programming questions for people who were much older than him.
He said the internet ‘opened the door to a much larger, more diverse, and more vibrant world’ than he could have imagined.
Brooks added that navigating around the internet meant that he could be an ‘active participant in, and contributor to, that world’.
“I launched Omegle when I was 18 years old, and still living with my parents,” he continued.
“It was meant to build on the things I loved about the Internet while introducing a form of social spontaneity that I felt didn’t exist elsewhere.
“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.”
Omegle has officially shut down for good pic.twitter.com/LaIPNJEAe9
— Culture Crave 🍿 (@CultureCrave) November 9, 2023
The Omegle founder explained that he had no expectations when he launched the site, but it became ‘popular almost instantly after launch’ and would reach a million users a day.
He pointed out how people would use the platform to explore other cultures and ‘to help alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation’.
Brooks then went on to acknowledge the ‘damaging misuse’ of Omegle.
He concluded: “I believe this had something to do with meeting new people being a basic human need, and with Omegle being among the best ways to fulfil that need.
“As the saying goes: ‘If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door’.”
People have reacted on X (previously known as Twitter) to the news of Omegle getting shut down.
“End of an era right there,” writes one person.
Someone else personally shares: “Met my wife on that website! One random evening turned into four years of being happily married.”
“I actually made some pretty awesome friends on there,” pens another person.
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The site’s closure comes amid criticism that it endangers users, with there being reports of child s**ual abuse and other crimes on the platform, as per The Independent.
The BBC reports that Omegle has been mentioned in more than 50 cases against p****philes in the last two years alone across the world.
The news comes just days after the UK’s Online Safety Act which aims to hold platforms accountable for crimes on their sites, including online grooming.